For NDH (Norris D. Hoyt)
Knuckles nut tight on the wheel,
running my mantra like an outboard.
Like the time I’d fallen in, alone,
in the middle of the pond,
breaking my way to the edge.
I’ll make it home, I’ll make it sure,
running there with skates still on,
over the frozen fields.
Or the first time I prayed,
my white rat lying senseless
on the bed from when I hit him hard
with a sockfull of BB’ s because
he’d half eaten the starling I’d
saved, fallen from its nest.
(The rat, righting itself, blinked pink.)
And you, the skipper, tallest teller
of any tale, you were speechless
in the banshee night, storm trys’l set
running before a full gale, and I
needing blather to keep my mind
from broaching, pitchpoling, giving in.
My mantra half in gear now and slipping,
over the edge, and you, the skipper
catatonic. But no, (TE DUM!)
you gray beard loon, you were asleep.
half awash but sleeping. If you
could have that much faith,
then I could too, and tell the tale.