On the 52nd
The night's whispered breeze bears with it
a hush to temper the day's panic along the heights
of the New England coastal cliffs.
The Gulf Stream prods the Atlantic
to throw its waves into the feet of the cliffs.
In doing so, it creates its own self-congratulatory
Upon the precipice of the cliffs, remains
a solitary man of many years.
Clouds, being done with their assorted duties,
retire for the night and leave behind
a sky of sparkling brilliance to keep company
with the solitary man, a former sea captain.
Many boats he had skippered among the reefs and shoals;
Yet, his eyes were ever vigilant to the white froth of the shallows.
Whether forced to the windward on a hard tack,
or on a broad run comfortably skimming in the lee of the shoals,
the captain never dragged his keel on the hidden rocks.
Such was this man's skill that land-lovers felt safer
with him at the helm in a reckless storm than in a carriage
on a quiet country road.
Of all the ships he had captained, only one had ever foundered;
and that was proven to not be his fault.
The many others had finished their courses
and had known many points on the charts.
Boats he had commanded, not all were dreams:
some had been scows and weathered brigs.
But to each he had been faithful, not considering
one less than another.
Standing on the cliff's precipice, his posture
is exactly as if he were on a ship's bridge.
Still he is alert, watching the shoals and gauging the wind
as he watches younger captains take the helms of ships
through the twisting channel and into the sea
with the night settled in, cuddling the little ones into a sleep.
Love, your son, Ernie
Blessed Father's Day, 2005