Business: it is a work day at the harbor.
From out of every truck yard in the city
Pickups, horse-carts, vans, and eighteen-wheelers
Swarm and deposit cargo by the water.
Big things are left there, a profusion of boxes
And long flats lined with countless smaller crates,
All packed with books and manuals, pollen samples,
Refrigerator units. It mounts and mounts –
There is a sloop docked fast in the bay.
It has floated there for a century.
The culled goods are being hauled on board,
Cranes lifting things hurriedly
Up the gangplank and down inside the hull,
Forcing the slight frame full of everything.
A few other boats troll cautiously,
And each makes of its freight an offering
To the mother ship. Cargo is loaded on
Till its better part is pressed beneath the water,
The great weight below having countered
The precarious nest of masts above.
One cannot tell which way the ship will sail,
But when it does attempt to move,
Nothing but sea should stand its passage.
Constellation, Fastest of Her Day,
Has been obsolete now for so long
That tourists rarely ever come and see it.
Now it is ready for another voyage,
Though no one seems to know why it is leaving.
Its timbers, warped by sea-rot, moan and creak
Each time the water swells. Rows of thick cannons,
Ancient, black – cemented barrels, cracking
Skins of paint – club dumbly at the air.
Its banners play, hinting at a glory
Not gone yet, but not recollected, either.
It was a work day, yes, but that is over,
Save for the few who labor the ship free
Of the spent harbor, till its sails fill like wings
And the heavy boat lurches across the water
At last, for the last time, to sail again
And deliver on a different shore.