Saturday, October 20, 2012

Apothesion of the Ocean VI

A Sailor’s Epitaph


Inspired by our visit to the Bedford Bethel, a memorial not of stone or bronze, but of poesy to the multitude who found their final rest in the teeming waters. Dedicated to Julia.


See the pink of sunset in the West

and the waning light in East reclaiming

the blue of sea. Holy quiet, far removed

from men’s bustle, that permits thoughts

of wind and water, of men lost long ago

and yesterday upon the sea’s expanse.


These pebbles still remember touch of

widow’s foot, that long looked into the

black of night with prayer for husband’s

and father’s safety, that son and daughter

may see their unknown father, winning

their bread and salvation upon the fields

of water. But they found their cross in

waters of third baptism and this world

claimed its citizens in overzealous wave

of air or spray. The first caught his soul

in the Lord’s net while water served

as shroud and sepulcher to hide his body

till the final day of God. He joins the

countless scores of men most noble

whose ashes mix with the wicked wiped

before Noah from the Earth, and feeds

now the fish that fed him and his family.


And behold what monument God raises

to his children, commanding wind to

endless paean sing in place of inscribed

stone, blessing the teeming fish and forest

to weave living relics from their hearts.

Thus the seaweed sways with the dance

they made upon the swaying decks of ship,

and the whales sing in depths with longing

note the mariners of God sung beneath the stars.

The creeping things arrange their bones

into swirling shells and cups to serve as home

made in this desert richer than rainforest,

and the plankton rise touched by gleam

of Moon to living floor lay beneath the

vault of heaven to complete the basilica.


This sacred domain I enter, destroyed

and raised in single day, to fleeting shine

of sun catch and envelop as if in flaming

fire the shell I find and bless as candle,

prayer, and token of my memory calling

to the silent multitude of saints and sinners.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.

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