The boat was packed. The others in my group
had jostled for some benches in the cabin,
but I stood at the railing, brushing against
a large man in a charcoal suit, a mother
fussing to keep two children by her side.
The sun was up, silvering the wave crests,
and land was distant, twisted strips of green,
except for islands, now and then, brick ruins
and cranes with piles of building materials.
Wide water. And then, from way back when, “The water
is wide.” The motor of the waterbus
rumbled so numbly, I began to sing
in murmurs, “I cannot get over,” thinking
of you, my love, across the ocean’s time zones,
as two old men stood in a sandolo
and rowed the other way, “and neither have
I wings to fly,” as gulls accompanied
our groaning boat and sunlight mixed with breezes,
a tangible brocade of hot and cold.
“Give me a boat,” I hummed, “that can carry two,”
and wanted you here, cramped beside the railing,
where we could not help touching, flank to flank.
Our hands would have to clasp. We’d sing together,
unheard by others, while the engine throbbed.
“And we’ll both row,” we’d swear, “my love and I.”
How could we cross the distances between us?
The mate, emerging from the pilot house,
parted the crowd by muttering “Permesso.
”His tossed rope curled around the metal post
and made the boat glide in against the dock
that floated, bumping the pier. How could I cross
the dark lagoon that opened into ocean,
rowing against the waves that rose and rose?