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Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication by King Features.

Night Crossing

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 23, 2016.
About this Poem 

“At the outset, there was a vague thought—we dream of moving forward but actually we just go back and forth. The mystery of time makes me a little seasick. But a half-thought can sometimes displace more water than a dissertation. Bon voyage!”
—Ron Slate

Night Crossing

Back and forth is a way to move
when the visible is spacious.

But what’s the state of the last boat,
lightly loaded and unprofitable?

Tied up at the mainland dock,
the ferry shudders in its berth,

its captain consults a tide chart
and grunts. A new, possessive moon.

Late departure, a rigid beam of light
probes the sea lane for what violates or drifts.

The other shore, not far off, can leap
and hurt the hand pointing at it.

In the dark alongside—wings seen, instantly gone,
a half-thought interrupted by a heave.

Then the ferry turns hard a-port to the channel,
the parting waters make the sound of a god

murmuring for both the first and last time.
At mid-crossing, something is lacking twice over—

in this location, in the mechanism or vision of the crossing?
Two ports, both accommodating, but unmoved

by what goes on between. How many departures
does a person need, how many starts can be tolerated?

A necessary collision at the pilings
tells everyone it’s over.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Ron Slate. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 23, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Ron Slate. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 23, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.