TURNING A BATTLESHIP
They say it’s like turning a battleship.
They say they’re making progress:
the vast bulk of iron against the swell
that rises and rises and against the wind
that never, ever, for a moment, lets up.
All hands are doing what sailors do–
–turning cranks, watching dials,
running to and fro. It was more obvious
when the ships were under sail,
when it had to do with lowering and raising,
with ropes and anchors and chains.
Like turning a battleship, they say.
Something that big, pounding along in a fixed direction,
thousands of tons afloat
inflexible, ungraceful, lumbering, loud,
not like, say, whales,
who turn their enormity
graceful and swiftly, who breach and sing and whisper and fly–
and kayaks, currochs, dugouts,
sailboards and surfboards
skimming and slipping the surface–
and leaves in autumn–
russet from the ash trees, red from the maple,
brown from the oak–
and golden birch leaves–
how they blow light and high, following
and ravens somersaulting–and hawks–
and little birds
flipping so easy above the corn–
and snowflakes and snowboarders and
children on swings and monkey-bars–
and ballerinas, gymnasts,
parachutists, politicians, bass guitarists–
and all those World Cup footballers
turning on a dime.
I wrote this in 2006. An experiement, since wordpress doesn’t let me use my own formats. Here’s a screenshot of the poem–the words aren’t too legible, I think, but this shows the shape of it.