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Circumnavigating the Globe

                                    Brian Turner


                                               . . . let them sail forever

In 1819, she held the scrimshaw carving from a whale’s tooth
as the Essex pulled anchor and set out from Nantucket, her lover
on the foot-ropes leading to the crow’s nest, waving Good-bye.

He would never be seen alive again, something she somehow knew,
her hands trembling with what love can do within us,
only beginning to learn what it can do as years pass by.

She said I love you—just as the Essex disappeared from sight—
and the words carried on the wind, in the earth’s turning,
rising and falling in a duet with the ocean’s blue waters, her words

rose in thermal updrafts, they fell with the rain, wandering
through long decades, the streets of Tangier, Port Moseby,
Panama City, to round the Cape of Good Hope, Drake’s Passage;

her own skeleton long underground and yet her words continue
on through the apple orchards, the gold sway of wheat on the prairie,
Indian summergrass rusting into another autumn in New England

where they finally discover an old man on his deathbed, late
in the 20th Century, dying in a hospital where no one gives a damn
and he knows it, knowing also that he deserves nothing more,

and yet, these words, he hears them in the breeze at the window,
the curtains lifting and falling as they near, to pass right by him,
a sweet thing, that, even if they were never meant for him,

here they are, called out over the sea, one voice of the eternal, love
even as it escapes us, even as we set sail with the sidelights on,
red to port, green to starboard, never to return.


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