Note: Autumn is a melancholy season in some ways--and my brother-in-law's death last week has emphasized that for me. The sonnet was written right after his passing on the final day of an Alaskan cruise. It was a small vessel designed to get into the narrowest bays with only 21 passengers who lined the rail and waved as the Coast Guard removed Dave's body.
A Time to Keep and a Time to Cast Away
A boat sized for entrance to the bay
Where sheets calved from the standing ice
Permitted him, at the close of day,
To watch the whales surface in the vise
Of waves too cold for any man to bear.
The mortal chime of stars rang out a story
Of seal and orca. He leaned upon the rail to stare
At darkness. The final voyage. He was not sorry.
The boat plowed the chill salt acres
To heave him balanced awkwardly
As if truth speakers and old fakers
Warred in the spume. He let it be.
A thought, a word, his life unfurled
In the unappeased secret of the ample world.
© 2018 Joan Colby
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