Today's poem is by Jeremy Hooker
For a Woman Who Said She Could Fall In Love With A Boat
For Mieke on her fiftieth birthday
What I wish you is not a sieve
or a chugging tub
or a hulk half sunk in the mud
with ribs that clutch at the sky,
but a sound bottom,
good timbers throughout
and oceans ahead to plunge in.
Or a canoe, maybe, or a kayak,
for mountain lakes and rivers,
skin or bark rider of rapids
and a wise spirit to guide you
sickle-gleam glimpsed between cedars,
new moon drifter on dark water
Or a rowboat,
crawling in creeks where you anchor,
and lie back, head pillowed,
and dream, rocking, rocking,
watching the sailing sky.
Or else a thoroughbred yacht,
sail taut as a fin or billowing,
gull-white hull with lines
sleek as a great northern diver
a yacht which never dives, but cuts through waves
over the crab's den and the lobster's lair,
over stones and mud where the weeds are,
under, down under, while it races over
and ocean is its pasture.
Better for you a boat like a dolphin,
a mythical craft,
part mammal and part bird.
Nose up, nose down, and the back curves
out of the water, awash and shining.
What are you then but the sea
and the sea's daughter,
waves riding waves
and spume in your hair?
Best of all though I wish you
one of your native boats.
Not a tjalk with a hold
full of vegetables and household stuff,
or the floating barn of a flat-bottomed aak,
smelling of grain and stone to mend roads.
No grandfather barge which you would care for
like a beloved elder, retired
from the work of the world.
Rather an antique sailing boat
with brass portholes and polished timbers,
stately and playful and worthy
of every weather,
canal-wise and ocean-knowing,
a boat with an engine that never fails,
and a room below when you carry a fellow voyager,
and a red sail.
Copyright © 2003 Jeremy Hooker All rights reserved
Enitharmon Press / Dufour Editions
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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Copyright © 2002, 2003 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved