The two poems chosen are from my set prompted by the concept SAINT which also inspired my short story in issue 10 of The Lonely Crowd, ‘Above It All’. An article on the writing of it
The Saint Sets Out
Was it at night he launched the boat?
The surf was sound,
Thudding, thrashing, arriving, arriving
And he mad to be gone.
Was he a stern commander of his men:
Jerking a slack rope taut,
Skewing a too-straight line;
Or was he the silent type:
Hunched at the prow,
Stinting his energy from tasks
That could as well be done by any,
Knowing himself to be
The only crucial compass for them all?
Whichever, the sea was wide
And the boat small.
The lamp at the masthead swaggered crazily,
A spangle, hoist to light a vaulted dome.
The sea, un-seeable, was chaos, roaring,
Nothing stable but a few stars:
Of all this casting-off and letting go.
In bone-tight cold and swingeing spray
Those on the wind-skinned strand
Watched a departure into black −
No wake, no skyline −
But when the voices shredded
As the sea swung in behind them
Then (since in darkness any light is Light)
The eyes who sought made out an ensign:
The boat itself become a buoyant star.
When the Saint Wavered
At the last moment
He took a small stone with him to the boat,
Roughly round, a solid talisman.
Dry beach, it said among the waves,
Powder; desert; firm, un-tilting mass; stanchion; plumb-drop …
An un-staunched litany:
Praise of the parched or steady
At every touch.
When, after many days, he knew (they knew, all knew)
That they were at a loss,
He weighed in his palm
He felt their anxious, trusting eyes
And let his pumice Jonah go
Over the side.
That night in drifting sleep he heard
A hunter among leaves:
In the pursuit of love, beloved,
You have to risk the throw.
Loser takes all.
With nothing left to hold, be held.
He woke among veils of drizzle, grey as dust,
And the sound of birds:
Their first landfall.