Monday, April 14, 2008

Crossing on the Seattle Ferry by Clare D. Stewart

Oh the exquisite poems in sound, The swash of the bow wave,
The boil of the wake,
The rhythmic sound pulse of the hidden screw,
The white swash of a clumsy-topped wave that trips and falls,
(Can you hear white swashes and white sounds'
I can hear white sounds--
They are always soft--
They are quiet sounds,
Just soothing the silence by their inconspicuous swishes, rustles, murmurs,
Like the breaking of bubbles in cloudy foam,
And the fall of snow flakes upon snow)
And then the lap of the little green slopes against the bell buoy's adamant red,
Or the keening of a taut stay, vibrant, weird,
The slap-slap-slap of a halyard against a staff, counting the pulses of the iron heart stowed away in the vessel's vitals,
And the whirr of a gull's wings —
Oh I say there are poems in sound,
Poems as many as bubbles here while crossing the bay.
And the exquisite poems in sight!
I see a sleek-hulled ship,
Pushed thru the cold green water
By the unseen, polished blades, rapidly whirling,
I see a graceful hull at a mooring,
With a black top-side and a white boot-top,
And a red boot-top,
And a green line at the water!
Without your graceful ends you are beautiful, O Hull!
Without your mellow colors you are beautiful, 0 Hull!
Even afar like a smudge upon the wave you are beautiful, 0 Hull!
Even afar as a speck beneath the sun you are beautiful, O Hull!
I look at our ship's invasion of untrammeled waters ahead,
The drapery of eager commotion that fans out abeam and astern,
The ermine lace of a toppling crest,
The lathery curd of the wake,
Cumulous white,
The side-swell's far-reaching orderly ridges,
Lifting the sea like curving plow-shares of pearl,
The smoke tumbling out of the funnels,
Drooping abeam over the sea,
Doubling and redoubling and gyrating like dancers in a dream,
Swirling whirl-pools of murk that detach themselves
and spin into nothingness,
Queer little torques,
Spinning and spinning, and low, are gone,
Like gray old women in a child's faery tale;
And I see the fine-spun radial lines about my aureoled head upon the mote-filled water,
I see it as Walt Whitman saw it--
It is the halo shine of the God in man,
Of the God in me--
And it will make a God of you, O Reader, to stand at
the rail in the sun-stream and gaze at the water
Marking the bubble swarms beneath the surface,
Swimming upward and outward,
Simmering like bees;
Feeling the stroke of the Chinook on your hand,
Laughing, laughing, laughing, laughing, the inward
laugh of joy in the sea-shine and sun-shine,
Purged by this riotous bath of sense —
O splash of crimson stack!
0 note of shrilling tug!
0 kiss of wind!
0 ye sheer miracles of sense!
Quivering flood of sense —
I bathe and bathe and bask,
Exult, and nothing ask
But that the sunny day endure.

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