the sails snapped with each small gust
as we tacked Lady in hopes
of finding the wind
we kept dead reckoning by day;
in the night we searched
for the distant stars–
those brothers of the sun
that push him aside,
replacing his glory
with dim semblance–
their warmth always out of reach

the brothers,
indignant that their pale blue light
gives the captain use
for his rusty sextant,
hide themselves behind
purple clouds,
flashing with unheard lightning,
those dark billows following
every night since we crossed the horn–
since we lost the coast to the thin line
that connects sea and sky

the captain often stands amidships,
his cigar chewed to a nub,
his hat drenched in salt and sweat,
yelling something at one of us or another
before turning his back
to make the climb to the helm
me, at the boom,
and Squeaky Pete going aloft
young Davy, his hands blistering on the halyard

the wind, like the very breath of God–
it evades us day and night
teasing the sails
before turning away
spinning above our heads
like fingers drawing in the sand

provisions are low
the crew plays it calm,
but we see if in the captain’s eye
his dearest friend