Gnarled palms sand burrs along the taffrail.
Satisfied, he faces the prow and sniffs the air
above deck, identifying distinct scents
of timber–white oak, teak, cedar, pine–
as he steps lightly over sawed lumber,
reeming irons, pitch ladles, and caulking mallets
to oversee the fill of fresh oakum
and inspect watertight seams
running from stem to stern
while tar dries and lightens in the sun.
He paces starboard to port and back
listening carefully for creaks in the planking
or framework groans from keel or ribs
until certain of a solid hull under his footfalls,
then rechecks every spar, joist, scantling,
davit, hatchway, lath, hasp, grommet.
Scrutinizing the rigging, he tautens
every lanyard and halyard, securing scows.
Officers will soon crowd the great cabin
with nautical maps and instruments
even as cargo holds are crammed
with whisky barrels and baggage in anticipation
of bollards loosing mooring lines;
but this is his moment, time at a standstill,
when a master craftsman, patient and thorough,
first perceives seaworthy handiwork
tenderly wrought by skilled hands.
Brandon Marlon is from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and has been published in 100+ publications world-wide. www.brandonmarlon.com.