This poem becomes more relevant by the day, unfortunately. Penned in December of 2016, may “Character” inspire reflection, from now through November and on.
The shuffling line from dock to deck
Turns up the plank to ticket check.
Those early on the rails above
Wave wanly down to ones they love;
A long look down to ones they love.
Mark the ship, her lines and seams,
A welding of designer’s dreams
And builder’s craft—but is she true?
Or will she break against the blue?
How will she fare against the blue?
New captain there, high on the bridge;
A ship so large, his privilege.
It’s whispered that he’s wrecked a few,
Though smaller craft, that much is true;
Not one his fault, that much is true—
Or so it’s sworn by this fresh crew
And owners old with lifeboats new.
All’s well insured with fading ink,
They reassure with touch of drink;
The trembling calms with touch of drink.
The seas ahead are known to swell,
Lift up to heaven, drop to hell,
Loom overhead till pounding down
To crush the air until lungs drown,
With howling winds until lungs drown.
Threatening isles with teething breaks,
A glancing scrape is all it takes
Across a careless bearing laid—
The reckless bet by all is paid;
The helmsman’s due by all is paid.
The wise will eye both ship and man
To measure both with skeptic scan.
The sea cares not for sentiment
Or fervent prayers to heaven sent;
It swallows prayers to heaven sent.
In character of steel and mind,
In ship nor man a weakness find,
On oceans’ floors, if truth be told,
There lies more faith and trust than gold,
There lies more hope than gold.
~ Quent Cordair
“Character” is from the My Kingdom collection of poems, short stories, & short plays for stage & screen, now available in paperback & Kindle editions.