Still Water Prose Poems

Copyright @ 1989 by Arthur Garfunkel
ISBN 0-525-24795-5
Used by persmission of Author - All Rights Reserved

30

It is an overcast night, but Bob and I are huddled in the
wheelhouse, thirteen feet from the wheel. Only the desklight
on this great center table that fills up a third of this spacious
room is on. Lit by it, sits the Atlantic chart and a pencil line of
our course made good.

Bob and I are in celestial wonder. The heavens revolve from
east to west. We follow the Dipper, it leads to Polaris, and then
he says this to me next:

—Now the North Star is the only star that stays fixed in the
sky through the night. And its altitude in the sky is your
latitude on earth.

I am stirred to the core. He has given me the night's compass, a
nocturnal bearing on everything. This polestar and I will make
an axis in space, we'll split the face of the sky in two. Forever-
more, when I see it above the horizon—a portion of ninety
from level to plumb (my selfsame proportion from equator to
pole)—then the whole poem-dumb world, the dome of pearl
zodiac, Polaris and me and seed to stem, the rolling Sistine
starscape will enwrap them.

Under blankets as a child, I would stare at the ceiling molding
over me. The eye would slide, then the molding took a hold
of me. Under a porthole now, in bed, the universe is more
a home to me.

North Atlantic crossingJuly 1984