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Sport 35: Winter 2007

Island Boats

page 171

Island Boats

In the dark uncertain about dawn, gentleness
leaking out, as if daylight was practising
and not totally committed to the solid start of day.
The reef-water still and black about itself.

Where the boats go at dawn, to sea, holding beyond
the breakers, black as outline, as complete object.
At this hour the boats emerge, outrigger canoes,
aluminium dinghies with engines, all heading out.

The minutiae of boats, their lack of panic, the pitching
of boats whether it is dark or not, and whether
returning or not. The story that boats will come
and unload their cargo, and the myth of that cargo.

All the telling of it, the almost listening, the assurance
that boats will bear it, or have the last word.
The gaudy lightness of a cruise liner before dawn
lining the horizon with sparklers and parties,

white shirts and caps on its bridge and the electronic
exactness of position. The memory only of position.
Cargo of the mind, telling of ripples across oceans,
fishing up a beginning, a middle, but world without end.

The mackerel grounds where boys dive at evening,
baiting for tuna tomorrow morning, generations
of fishermen at that spot each day, the same generations
of tuna interrupted and hauled in silver suits.

At all hours the talking sea, the intervals at which
the horizon is disrupted or, more usually, a lone craft
is riding the single rail at the edge of known things
to where the lookout gives his certain all-clear.