By day we pace the many decks
of the stone boat
and at night we are turned out in its high windows
like stars of another side
taste our mouths we are the salt of the earth
salt is memory
in storm and cloud
we sleep in fine rigging like riding birds
taste our fingers
each with its own commandment
day or night it is harder to know than we know
we are asleep over charts at running windows
we are asleep with compasses in our hands
and at the bow of the stone boat
the wave from the ends of the earth keeps breaking
— W.S. Merwin, from his book The Compass Flower (1977, Alfred A. Knopf), and found in the collection Migration: New & Selected Poems, (2005, Copper Canyon Press), used by permission of the publishers. Copyright © 1977 by W. S. Merwin.
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