Kevin Ireland


Sailing the world

It was high time for him, at his great age,
to take stock of how things were
in the world and where he had got to,
and the course to take from here on in.

So he decided to shift his chair as he
thought about this and that, in the usual
way of it, and in only a moment or two
he heard the woodwork creak below him.

It became the heavy strain of a ship at sea —
the way the timbers rub like an old cat
against the waves and the hull begins
to scratch itself and wheeze and groan —

and he sailed on with no thought of where
he was going, though for a long while
he stood with one arm raised to the skies,
because experience had taught him

that storms, or the wrath of the gods,
or whatever worse thing it was,
usually came hurtling down on him
from that direction. It was no more

than a frail gesture, yet anyone looking
at him might well have guessed he was
pointing at the death of the sun, shadows
crossing the face of the waters, or the moon

holding its breath at the edge of the world.
A pity they missed his smile as at last
he settled back into the dark anchorage
of his chair just across the room.


Author’s Note


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