Poem: Defying the Tide

Defying the Tide

Just off the piers, a barge dredges the channel.
It is slow, noisy work, digging out the old
to make room for deep hulls and larger boats.
Progress. Even if it means the smaller fishing craft
will loose their place at the piers.

You sit at the diner, looking out, looking at
the water stirred up with each dip of the dredge,
muddy and confused, slowly swept away by tides
like so much in your own life. Swept away.
You are left wondering how it is you are still here,

some essence of what you once were in the mix
of all that has died and left you. All the broken parts
rearranged and made into something almost new.
Over and over again, each death, each loss
requiring a dredging, to clear the debris
and let the tides do their work

while clinging to what matters,
what lies under the surface and is worth the work
of saving. Determining all this in the dark,
in the muddy maelstron of change and emotions.
Trying somehow to become immortal
until that moment, when you are not.

Everything dies. Everything you love leaves.
This is the way of the world. It is true.
It is sad. It is exciting, knowing you are alive
as long as you change, live and die and live again,
new wine in old skins, defying the rules,
defying the tide.

About this poem

A poem about loss. A poem about living. Inspired by dark thoughts in the morning, and brighter thoughts after my second cup of coffee, a prayer or two, and some time getting out of my own way. I argued over the title, “Dredging” or “Defying the Tide.” I do a lot of defying the tide, so that one won out.

The bit about wine and wineskins comes from the Gospels, both Matthew and Luke: “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”

The picture was taken in Provincetown, Mass.


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