Brendan the Navigator

by JOHN Y. KELLEHER
BRENDAN alone awake, guiding his coracle nowhere,
Wave-sliding, buoyant-borne over the ocean,
A mote on all, a pod, a hollowness sea-encircled,
Dark belly to fishes flashing under the motion of surface.
Who is more lonely than Brendan or who was lonelier ever
Than, riding the thwart, he is who navigates only
The water drag and off-course push of the sea winds,
And looks in from nowhere on men stretched snoring.
Daring is lost in vastness; white fire of the veins disperses
In wilds of the air and water, where courage goes creeping;
And nothing is near and familiar but green death talking,
Walking and whispering under the ears of the sleepers.
Above, aloft in the darkness, under the moon-wasted starlight,
With wings extended and silvered, a sea bird flying,
Cocking a yellow eye, looks down on the wrinkling moontrack
And utters a squawk of query at nothing he understands.