Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page

all my seasick sailors

Lynn Crosbie
From:   Pearl. in Queen rat: new and selected poems. Toronto: Anansi, 1998. p.144-5.


Sly and second-sighted, my friends have abandoned ship. Rats,
           escaping in small grey
lifeboats, their annular tails turn the tide, their lambent eyes, like the
           moon, dictate its flow.
The violinist plays Autumn as the masts unfold, water lilies in the
           pitch of the sea.

A message in semaphore, what I have always longed to know -- to stand
           by the stern, and
with courage, let go. Nostalgia's poison

love spreads out like a sheaf of photographs, memory without blood,
           a fluked anchor,
undone. The line that breaks when the storm comes, the truth that
           sailors know:
red skies without delight,

a bad sign. To navigate you must know where you are going, with an
           exact chart,
pin-stuck with ellipses. Accidents, typhoon, the fibrous stakes of sea
           monsters, the diamond ice caps,

miracles that have changed course, carved passages into the new
           worlds, where sailors
arise. In white militia,

letters come like gulls flat on the crest of waves, infatuation coursing,
           like a science of chaos,

they appear in envelopes of ice, intermittent ghosts — to remind me
           that love is spectral,
unforeseen.

The rapids were turbulent toward the Asian corridor, sailing into
           Lachine. It is China, after all.
Rare and fragile, esteemed from a great distance,

protected in shelf-ice.

I touch this china from rim to stem, and feel its raised flowers,
           brought to me from the ocean's
floor. In spite of the danger, the mariners have garlanded the stingray
—as the lashings narrowed,

they retrieved me from the wreck.



Lynn Crosbie's works copyright © to the author.


Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page