That dream again: a boy manning the bridge,
The surging, force eight sea, the rolling ridge
Raising his bow to clouds without a mark,
Slamming him down to salt spray in the dark.


One lonely cabin light would keep him warm.
Imagining a refuge from the storm,
Land out there like a hand upon the waters,
Perhaps a family with sons and daughters


Leaning in lamplight to their evening meal.
He lends their image secret powers to heal,
Granting himself this gift, as if the earth
Could give a damn for his romantic dearth.


He knows no better than a bobbing gull
The forces tossing him, how well the hull
Will hold, how long the engine will secure
His progress inward to some sheltering shore.


But if he finds confusion in the murk,
With years he learns a navigator’s work,
Steering from dread to dimly figured joy,
Arriving, somewhere, like that bearded boy.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 15 Number 3, on page 30
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