It is historic, this old steamship
with its tiny staterooms and spacious dining.
Smoke billowing above.
The back deck is covered with chairs.
Straight backs and cane bottoms
scattershot under shade,
a place for musical chairs
as people came and went,
fell into conversations,
fell into love,
fell into contemplation
of the dark secrets every generation harbours.
It is historic, this steamship,
a museum piece.
Hardly any guests come here any longer
and you have the deck and its musical chairs
all to yourself, to look across the grass green sea
and see instead, water and horizons.
You were always able to do this.
To imagine too vividly. To create worlds
out of this one, to live
in two places at once,
staring over the deck seeing then
and now, and something more,
something beyond sight,
where you are here
and the rest of the universe is not.
About this poem
It’s been a long hard strange week. I have been away from the woman I love too much with work and strange hours. And so, sitting in the diner, about to head to work, this poem emerged.
I really do have a vivid imagination of other worlds and other possibilities. Mostly, it has served me well.
The picture was taken on the back deck of the steamboat Ticonderoga, in the Shelburne museum where it sits in a field a few miles from Lake Champlain, on a sea of grass.