Passage Without Rites (1999) by Philip Booth
Homing, inshore, from far off-soundings.
Night coming on. Sails barely full.
in its dying, too light to lift us against
the long ebb.
My two fingers, light
on the tiller, try to believe I feel
the turned tide.
Hard to tell. Maybe,
as new currents pressure the rudder,
I come to sense
the keel beginning
to shape the flow of the sea. Deep
and aloft, it’s close
No stars yet. Only the risen nightwind,
as we tack into its warmth,
we’ll make our homeport. Strange,
angling into the dark,
how a mainsail’s camber reflects
the arc of the keel,
reversing whenever we tack.
You call from below,
hand up coffee,
check the glow of the compass, and
raise an eye to Arcturus,
beginning to shine. All over again,
all over, our old bodies
the old mysteries: the long night
still to go, small bow-waves
a little nachtmusik; stars beyond stars
flooding our inmost eyes.
now, come out of the dark,
deeply sounding our own.
~ Philip Booth