Texas, up near Wichita Falls,
sun high when wild-berry boy
came upon driftwood-limp old skipper
and fallen old yawl. Ivy on the hull,
aster crawling the keel, a nest
between mast and boom.
Lizards on the transom.
The skipper said he sailed from Atlantic City
some thirty limping years back,
aiming for the Gulf and a woman who waited.
Her hair might be graying, now,
but he knew she hadn’t given up
on making the children say their prayers each evening,
their hands small and busy like whitecaps,
small like the hands of this boy in the wood
asking if they’d had any sons.
It was a southerly storm that stranded him,
sent the yawl tumbling through thick cumulus seas.
Lightning took the port halyard
and the great bow crashed through the elms.
Even kingbirds left their nests, flocked up and up.
Oh it must have been tremendous, said the boy.
It was something, said the skipper.
The boy bent for a clevis pin underfoot
then reached for the rusty rigging screw.
The old skipper broke his southerly gaze to watch,
thinking: at last.
The mighty hull began to rise from the nettles,
and a zephyr from the north straightened the telltale.