That night was so cold and clear
I threw a stone and ducked,
half-expecting the sky to shatter.
(And I must admit I daydreamed
to the beat of our leather boots
on the frigid sidewalk,
her soft, gloved fingers twined in my own
in the deep pocket of my winter coat.
We walked along the bustling streets
that crisp evening
she talking, telling stories,
weaving my own stories
around her delightful words:)
We were rounding the Horn
in a hurricane gale,
teakwood deck shuddering
beneath our feet
as barefooted crewmen
scuttling up and down the ratlines,
the only cloth still set.
We held close as antarctic howl
blew salt spray and sleet;
the great clipper shivered like
a thoroughbred from one trough to the next,
tossed and lurched ahead
through slate-gray sea.
One mountainous wave followed another;
we thinking surely we were doomed.
Slashing cold rain
hammered against steel-hard canvas,
freezing as it hit,
drenching everything exposed to its fury.
And as the rigging sang in a Banshee wail,
we cowered in vain
beneath the after rail,
checking our safety lines
over and over and over,
clinging to one another like
there would be no tomorrow.
Thirteen endless days and nights
of terror and waiting and praying and hoping
till at last a wet cold sun
seeped over far horizon,
deep green waters slowly calming,
as much as they do at world's end,
and with great collective sigh
we set about inspecting the damage,
brave captain dashing to and fro,
eyes puffy from lack of sleep,
we watching the slow white wake
tailing away from the stern
and slowly fading
with the drifts.
I became aware of a shift in the wind,
spindrift needles stinging my face,
growing pressure against my right hand,
my reverie shattering,
kicking, screaming into fading shards
as she steered me gently
out of dream,
hand tucked in mine,
into the warm arms
of the waiting club.