The tide is on the turn, its silent ebb
Retreats before a cradled undertow,
As if a sullen spider drew its web
Hard back within itself—and I too slow
To haul against its dark, malicious spite;
The sea will have its due; the moon is full
Though still invisible to earth-bound gaze,
The waters swirl beneath its iron pull,
My feeble craft is towed, strain as I might,
And I, like Arthur, turn to face the night
Sans hope, sans Avalon, sans minstrel lays.
Low stinking mud-flats stretch on either side
Beyond the reach of any but the gulls,
Their screeching floats across a littered tide,
Made perilous with hulks and scuppered hulls,
A breaker’s beach of hopes beyond repair.
But am I not myself long past the point
Of salvaged anchors—caked in silted clay
Hydrographers would shudder to anoint
Or mark upon a chart? Though who would care
To navigate blindfolded or by prayer?
Beneath all copper sheathing lurks decay.
Here then we’ve lain to wait—abandoned wrecks
In hidden estuaries awash with blood,
Ghost cannons sprawled across the littered decks
Of mildewed oak grown rotten with each flood,
Each yards a noose , the rudder hinged athwart,
Each floating hell a corpse of history.
As Death’s pale mariners rise in our sleep
To pick and choose, we cry: ‘Let it be me!
Too long, too long! I’ve lingered in this port
Of lost despair. My battles all are fought.
The tide is on the turn—I seek the deep!’