Voyages V

Meticulous, past midnight in clear rime,   
Infrangible and lonely, smooth as though cast   
Together in one merciless white blade—
The bay estuaries fleck the hard sky limits.

—As if too brittle or too clear to touch!   
The cables of our sleep so swiftly filed,
Already hang, shred ends from remembered stars.   
One frozen trackless smile... What words   
Can strangle this deaf moonlight? For we

Are overtaken. Now no cry, no sword   
Can fasten or deflect this tidal wedge,
Slow tyranny of moonlight, moonlight loved   
And changed... “There’s

Nothing like this in the world,” you say,   
Knowing I cannot touch your hand and look   
Too, into that godless cleft of sky
Where nothing turns but dead sands flashing.

“—And never to quite understand!” No,
In all the argosy of your bright hair I dreamed   
Nothing so flagless as this piracy.

                                               But now
Draw in your head, alone and too tall here.   
Your eyes already in the slant of drifting foam;   
Your breath sealed by the ghosts I do not know:   
Draw in your head and sleep the long way home.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 4, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.