TJ (240829 / Leicester UK)

Nightwatch

The sun has just taken a suicide dive.
A dive to gambol and gamble with a sick spring lamb
Half a world away behind a line of westering waves
Wich all day flashed blue, crested white
And now lie silver fledged, black: A line
Of gnashing teeth my ship dares not infringe.

Enviable sun! No longer may I squander your matronage.
No longer does your ardour burn my chest and wring
Beads of heady sweat from my shoulders,
Armpits and the crooks of elbows, knees and thighs.

It's time to tuck a reef, in case, switch on the navs
And curse the nightly curse at the binnacle - lamp
That weeps so dim the compass is inaudible
(And does it mouth a mute 'beware' I'm deaf to?)

Time to huddle and cocoa below the dodgers
And hide from the sudden, marrow-ageing breeze,
To eat the tedious, tasteless hours of darkness;
The lonely watchman's lot.

Time to tell over the seamen's silly rhymes,
The shanties, the ditties, the bawdy ballads and dirges,
The wide-waking, sleep-chasing, time-trudge-quickening
Cerebral paraphenalia.

And now creep in the whisperings subliminal,
Which all day, kept at bay by the scream of sight
Come to kiss and tease and flirt
The cold, one-eye-open watchfulness of isolation.

Did the jib-luff flutter to a heading wind
Or a stately nod in a wave trough?
Or, likely, a yawing cuff on the quarter
From the cold, black, serpent-sighing death I'm floating in?

And that bowel-twitching clunk through my rump.
A pintle working loose? Or, Christ! A keel-bolt?
Or a fender at dalliance with the cockpit locker bulkhead.
Was that flash down my neck a flash?

Or the sudden plash of a wave in the stern-light's gleam?
Turn and, with blinder eyes, comb the blind gloom
For the loom of a light which can't be over there
Nor anywhere. Be calm.......Dream morning.... Dream Sun.

Will it come shy, pearly, blinking the sleepy stars from its eyes
In dewy dawn stillness? Or laughing, sweeping overnight clouds
From its brow? Will it come randy, or sulky, or silky?
Will it come? Oh God! may I never take morning
For Granted.................

by Tony Jennett

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