Sailing into the light

our dear friend Tim “the dancer” Rubidge has sent us an incredibly beautiful poem. thank you Tim

– a recollection from Tigh na Caora.

The evening was fresh from a sou’ westerly
And sheets just pegged out on the line
Were billowing to the horizon.
Air rushing in from across the loch
Fast dried the fibre of the cotton,
And whoever next
Had this linen on their bed
Would also be sleeping
With this wind.

I sat down on the plank of a bench,
Back against the cottage wall,
Looking out onto the sea’s marvellous evening.
And recalled the walk the four of us
Had taken on Ulva the day before.
How we had stood on high ground
In the middle of the afternoon,
Having turned at Craichaic
To retrace our steps back to the ferry.

In shared silence we caught sight of Winny under full sail.
Small, confident, her prow dipping and lifting,
Opening up a distance from the landfall of Inch Kenneth
In broad choppy water, sailing south.

We watched and watched,
Murmuring occasional words of wonder and joy.
This boat, this gallant craft and crew,
Had set sail for the Holy Land.
Taking in piers and moorings,
Will anchor in safe havens
In these southern Inner Hebrides,
In Ulster, the West Country,
Sail the full reach to cross the Bay of Biscay,
To turn the corner to Lisbon,
Turn again into the Mediterranean,
To find Sardinia, Sicily, Malta and Crete,
To the Med’s far end at Haifa.

But for now progress is here
Below us on this first sea crossing.
We drink in all that there is,
And it mixes with all that we know of preparations
And departures.
All that brought this idea
– the vision and the passion –
To this moment.
As hearts sing, a changing sky
Shifts light out there on the water,
As the sea itself reflects this tipping moment,
And the gathering of the next.

Winny was ploughing on and growing smaller.
Sometimes light, sometimes in shade.
And sometimes we noticed how she was hardly there at all.
Somehow transcendent, celestial.
Pure as particle physics:
Sailing between embodyment
And a formation of waves.


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