Stoic jackstands, erect as sentinels,
shoulder hulls crusty with barnacles.
Sailboats squat on leaden keels
awaiting sander, paint, and power drills
their proof against the years.
April in the boatyard, I'm hauling batteries, fixing wires,
'til finally my boat's nervous system fires.
Electronics quicken, and she blinks with life.
This year, like every year, I wash and buff and putter,
smooth her skin, apply the paint
that keeps this old flame forever young.
But this is my 70th April.
Strong muscles have gone stringy, eyes unsharp.
Bones and joints rebel at sanding, polishing, pampering.
Beyond that line of scrawny trees, the tide is running out.
On the black and barren flat, fractured ribs of scuttled ships
poke through the glistening mud.
Skeletal fingers from the grave of derelict, forgotten hulks.
I count the years with melancholy, but ...
Not yet, not yet! Not this boat.
Come the flood, and once again
my pretty sloop will float;
pulled by wind and straining sails
this fleet girl will carry me
for one more year at least
across the broad, eternal sea.