The ship is launched upon the lake,
Its sails set, now out of reach,
I ask, will it touch the beach,
Or twist, tumble, capsize and break?
The pond for model boats is dry,
The leaves of hurried sycamores
Clog the drains and dirty the floor.
This is no season to trust the sky.
No boys, no girls, no granddad’s knees,
No uncles, ice-creams, Labradors,
Just lonely dreamers seeking cause
To still believe their fantasies.
Somewhere between this keyboard and
A desk eight thousand miles away
Someone might be moved to say
‘I know his hopes, I understand.’
Then shall I have a call to trace?
If I’m appointed, will I be
In awe of purpose, torn through space?
The balsawood and cotton ships
That people loose in summertime
Are sent off, voiceless, bare, to mime
The exploration of long trips.
They bumped against the concrete rim,
A stranger sailing his own craft,
Gently lifted it out, laughed,
And walked, carried it back to him.
Perhaps he watched it, hunkered low,
Imagining himself shrunk small
Astride the deck’s slow rise and fall
Sailing where the sailors go.
But still in fact ashore – well still
A toy boat bears a beating heart.
I don’t know how to say this part,
But where mine’s gone, perhaps I will.
To hope seems too much certainty,
And simply to forget and do
The jobs today has found anew
Does not distract or settle me.
My heart is out upon the sea,
I sent it there, I bade it fly,
When back in distant evenings I
Would stand and watch the gulls wing free.