Poem: The Singularity of Sailing

The Sail Maker’s shop at Mystic Seaport, CT.

The Singularity of Sailing.

My craft is not so large
to need the pullies stacked in the sail makers shop,
their size and heft alone a story
of oceans sailed and ships full of sailors.

No, for me, one will do, and a flurry of rope,
just enough for one man to raise a single sail
and let it fill with air
as I tack against the wind.

traveling upstream, across the currents,
a test in a way, of one man’s ability
to read the winds and hold everything just so.
Rudder and ropes, And a sense of optimism.

It was not always so. My first journey
in a sailboat almost sent us to the bottom
and it took a bit of rashness to do it again.
I was only six.

Sixty-one years later, I have come to know
the seas are unpredictable, and mostly
you can navigate your way cross-currents,
that sometimes the wind fools you, changes

and you are left drifting, through no fault of your own.
Floundering. Sails flapping. Just wait.
Sooner or later,
the bow comes around,

Sooner or later the seas you can ride
(not control, never that.) fall into place.
The ropes grow taut. The rudder gathers purchase
and you are traveling again.

Perhaps it is only me in my craft. Or a passenger
come along for a ride, trusting me, or the fates.
Trusting the strength of rope and sail,
to take them…. somewhere,

And bringing us both, home alive.
Never certain
if we are exhilarated,
or relieved.

About this poem

Another poem about sailing. It’s something that was once part of my life but I have not done since moving here to Vermont. Yet, it is still with me. The important things never leave, I think.

Tom

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