Frank Ian Bowen
A Sailor's Dream - Poem by Frank Ian Bowen
I gazed in awe at this beauty in wood,
in the soft morning light she suited my mood,
mellow in colour, soft browns and golds,
and I wondered what stories about her are told.
Are there battles involved, or journeys afar?
Pirates and cut-throats from which she has scars?
Were there sailors and merchants at the foot of her masts?
Has she tasted the sea? Faced terrible draughts?
Or is she really just there as a sight?
Going nowhere, not ever, by day or by night.
I closed on her shape, her petticoat lines,
touched her bottom of copper, of worm there’s no sign,
and the skill of her makers was there plain to see,
beautiful curves within sight of the sea.
But this pretty lady will move not an inch.
She’s fastened to land by wires and cinch,
and her tears of frustration showed close on her bow,
to my touch they were dry, but I do not know why.
Her sadness I felt as I walked round her hull,
almost hearing her scream like a lone hungry gull,
too lovely to sit here held from the sea,
where her true beauty shows, to a sailor like me.
I climbed up the stairs that they’ve built alongside,
entered her hull through gold doors held wide,
to find myself gaping at ornate lights and gold,
a ballroom, of opulence where there should be a hold,
a deck of fine marquetry, polished and bright,
her ribs, planks and timbers bathed in soft light,
a sight to draw breath from the lungs of a man,
the eyes overwhelmed by all that is scanned.
From deck to deck these brown hues and golds,
assail my senses, and make me feel bold,
as I reach her main deck, sun-bleached and grey,
my sailor’s blood surges, remembering the day
when I stood as now looking over the sea,
bathed in warm sunlight, blue skies over me.
And walking on her deck, so soft, taking care,
I sensed all her beauty that no-one will share,
that would only be realised if she moved through the sea,
if wind filled her sails, and the waves felt her lee,
her hand in a sailor’s, very gently at first,
sensing her movements, slaking her thirst
for graceful slow motion, riding the swell,
sounding her pleasure through her moaning as well.
And her captain? Of course! A soul such as I,
braced on the quarterdeck, swept by my eye
The only thing missing? A girl by my side.
And that is your role. In my dream you can’t hide.
Your arm’s round my waist, and our love’s shining bright,
we steer not by compass but simple starlight.
A full moon is shining it’s loom on the sea,
lighting up faces of you and of me
A twinkle and gleam appears in your eye,
as you wistfully gaze, and the sea rushes by
So that is the way that this beautiful dhow,
should spend her life rather than now;
Gracing the world with her movements at sea,
providing a home for sailors like me.
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