Eight Bells


by Len Krisak (November 2012)

                               —I.M., Allan Sullivan

“Brightwork,” said the sailor, and I see:

      Against the sky, the ship-brass vies

      With sunlight glinting off the sea.

Mere metal cannot win out, but it tries.

All able-bodied hands, subdued to dyes

      They work in, shine the bell and chain.  

      They shine like gold till daylight dies.

And then the sun comes burnishing again,           

To polish porthole, clock, and binnacle.

      What’s ground, light grinds; what’s sanded, sands.

      Soon, sun stands at its pinnacle,

To gild the ship with all it will be sans.

Wind whips the sheets and shrouds. Drink deep the liquor

      Of the waves while they are blue.

      Be happy fittings beam through lacquer.

Be glad they gleam. Be glad the wind once blew.

Len Krisak has published in The London Magazine, The Oxonian Review, PN Review, Standpoint, Agni, The Antioch Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson Review, The Dark Horse, Agenda, The Hopkins Review, Commonweal, Literary Imagination, The Oxford Book of Poems on Classical Mythology, and others. His latest book is Virgil’s Eclogues, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010


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