Traveling With The Wind
This morning, the wind is low.
Your craft barely moves against the tide.
You can feel the waves beneath your feet
as they slap noisily against the wooden hull.
You and this craft have journeyed together
to strange lands and back
more times than you can count.
You have survived storms and groundings
and your own faulty navigation.
You have survived wars, never quite winning,
never quite losing. Always, somehow, surviving.
The ship bears scars. There are patches and parts
that will never work properly again,
but somehow solid enough to stay afloat.
You have scraped the hull multiple times,
cutting away the sludge and barnacles.
And repainting. Always repainting
against the weather, salt, and wind.
Your sails need patching. They are in almost tatters.
It is work you know well, the mending.
It has become a way of life,
as essential as breathing.
The wind shifts. The hull creaks. Ropes pull taut.
The sea calls,
And like a boy, your heart leaps as you head to sea,
never considering whether you have another journey in you,
but simply traveling with the wind.
About this poem
I turn 64 today. Not old. Not young. My wife asked me yesterday if 64 would feel different. It doesn’t of course. It’s just a day. Worth marking, but just a day in the journey. I am kind of lackadaisical about birthdays.
I grew up sailing.
One of my favorite poems is “Ulysses” by Tennyson. I first encountered it when I was fifteen and it has remained with me. At sixty-four, it rings more true than ever.
The picture was taken at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.