Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mary O'Connor: "Standing Up in the Boat"

Off the Donegal Coast, 1922

In this moment
all seems possible and all is risked:
life, safety, the day’s catch
the voyage, the homecoming.

As waves pitch the currach,
nearly engulfing it, he stands
on a plunging, rearing ground,
the thrown rope hanging

between his hopeful face
and empty air, a huge blessing of rope,
coiled, spiralled, looping
towards his small reach, his unsteady stand.

Still here he is waiting, wet and salty
standing up on the lurch of the flimsy craft
leaning against air, against hope, in his proper
position to catch it, this rope

coming over to the weak inconstancy, himself—
now he takes a slight crouch, to be pushed a bit
up or down at the impact,  hands out
eyes open, face, heart:  here.

"Standing Up in the Boat" by Mary O'Connor, from Windows and Doors. © Finishing Line Press, 2012.

Image: "Off the Donegal Coast," oil on canvas by Jack Butler Yeats, 1922. This painting inspired the poem.

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