The clipper cuts through the sea

verdigris under water

flashes when the hull rises

copper and oak and teak

black pitch and gold leaf

topped by white billows

straining in the wind.

She moves fast, flags stream

and the bowsprit sometimes

splashes against the waves.

The figurehead’s white breasts

try to calm the world-sea

where below 10,000 whales

sing songs of breathtaking beauty

about the dark shapes that move

across their sky,

strange myths about iron chains,

bobbing corks,

and things called men.