a ship unearthed

And after an hour and a half’s sailing, we entered into a good haven,
being the port of a fair city; not great indeed, but well built, and that
gave a pleasant view from the sea: and we thinking every minute long,
till we were on land, came close to the shore, and offered to land.
Francis bacon ‘the new atlantis’

To sail the trade winds
like long white birds
over blind blue waters,
with oil & wine
for the troubled hearts
of men we began,
caught the promising tide at tyre
with gold spume dancing
before our eyes,
and fortuna leading us by the nose
for the long-imagined
country of the west.

The journey out is always the best,
buoyed up on wings
of thought-eagles,
gliding over a golden country
and dreaming of rich traders
grown careless in luxury,
and an easy killing to be made,
the hold glinting with gold,
holding us heavy
in barbarian waters.

When the lights went down
my phone woke up
with its little fanfare,
danced its son et lumiere on the table,
so of course the stewardess smilingly
chided me and I set it to silent.

She is putting the kids to bed now,
she loves me she says,
I sip my complimentary sancerre
and evening swallows us
like the interminable seas.

Britannia behind us, the gods be praised!
Britannia and her endless cold grey mornings,
and the treacherous, churlish inhabitants
as deadly as the rocks that guard
her chilly shores…
but  there’s wool and tin for our trouble
& good thracian wine and iberian oil
for the natives,
and once again glad departure,
for trade and distance
makes friends of us all.

Skimming the hudson
like a swallow
dipping a wing,
sipping fresh water,
sails straining like
white beasts tethered,
shivering and raging
dragging us jubilant
over the cloud-faced waters,
In my mind I think i see
something too large
to frame with understanding,
what exactly?
A hercules bestriding
the blue horizon,
shining,
blinking
with purpose & power,
two great pillars
piercing the wounded skies
with unimaginable fires;
and it looks to me
like the death of dreams.

july 2010

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