The light wears them out but not the bow spray

as they stand knuckle to knuckle clutching the deck rail

while the sun mists the teak with fine autumn.

The mystery of dress, of manners, of appearances,

yet all in uniform fashion, locked away safe

from danger and trough, mermaid and dragon.


Some eau-de-Cologne. A murder. But even here

the fabric of human history ― become rather faint ―

and long-dead passions is fed through the mangle

of patient contemplation, yielding the grain of sense.

This is the ruse: the ship has a harbour, a mise-en-scène,

to get to and only in steady lamplight brings forth its grief.