© Steve King
All rights reserved
Through all seasons,
peering outward from the high window,
he would watch the boats.
On they came
through clinging fog,
curtains of rain,
breaking through the crowning sun,
and out of deepest night,
with horns, lights
and strange dancing nautic grace,
gliding beneath sheltering stars
emerging to his view
as if the stirrings of dream.
Familiar constellations shown upon them all.
Only the moon would change its face,
although he knew it dragged the stubborn tides
in some promise of larger constancy.
Unchanging stars alone made perfect sense.
The manservant brought wines
appropriate for every season.
They drank to the hours,
and to the stars,
and for fair seas and warming winds
to usher every pilgrim home;
and to the dreams of coming ships,
and to great beauty as it once had been.
‘She’ll know me, even now,’ he said.
I have the pictures yet.’
‘And you have the letters.’
‘Yes, musn’t forget.’
‘You have them safe…’
‘I have them.’
‘Yes, most; but there are still a few…’
The sea changed every night,
the color and the call,
the mass of harbored boats
strung with lights
that traced a captive swell.
‘Shall I turn on the light?’
‘Easier to look out through the dark.
I can see the farthest reach that way.
I will know her when she comes…’
He paused to dispel a nearing cloud.
‘…and she will need no beacon.’
And so the many seasons went,
and many servants in their turns,
and endless boats and sheltering stars
reflected in the slipping tides.
And staring far through forgiving dark
to feel good seas and take fair wind,
he waited on a gentle dream
now grown ever close at hand.
And in the measure of his dream
he held a gaze so patiently,
to linger long on beauty lost,
someday to find his shore again.
Abiding without place or end,
great beauty as it once had been.