Posted by on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

The Fyrdraca is a reproduction ship built in 1979 by the venerable Longship Company and sold to some intrepid kooks in 2003–it made its way to my friend Richard, and he still keeps her afloat after all this time.  I’m busy and happy and writing, and hoping some day soon to see her in person again after so many years. 

Audio file

for Richard Jones and the Fyrdraca’s crew

I lay abed, and quiet,
No cry pulled me from sleep.
Rather, a soft sound on the wind
as from waves on shingle–
though no lapping water dares
reach so far inland.

I heard her name then, beckoning,
and knew my kin had reached water
countless miles from my door,
and would soon sail that storied ship
built so near my home
then borne beyond foot’s reach.
She was washed by salt water,
on voyages through brackish and briny
over delta and bay and sea
until her builders turned from her
to some other craft
and sold her off to one
with simpler dreams and stronger hands.
He hoisted her high and carted her
countless days’ journey overland,
crossing range and river
to sail a sweet-water lake year upon year
till she falters some sad day long hence
as will we all.

I call him brother, the Fyrdraca’s helmsman
but his names are countless and rich:
wisdom-bearer, fire-striker,
leather-shaper, knot-reader,
log-splitter, blade-honer
hammer-wielder, bronze-pourer,
skull-shielder, spear-bearer
ship-builder, tent-stitcher,
master-teacher, pelican-knight:
My first snowy-girdled friend.

My people have long clung to the shore
or climbed the slopes above,
lingering just beyond the reach of cresting wave
or claiming the craggier heights
with longer views.
Now I long to leave our foothills;
turning my back to the salt sea
and traveling west
bearing what gifts I’ve been given
by mother’s blood or teacher’s words
as all I have to pay my passage–
What value dappled eyes and nimble hands?
Sharp-tongue and honeyed throat?
Or will it be shuttle and needle buy my right
to board this ship that lured me
to and from my tribes and back again.

Though I know nothing of sailing
I will trust her hull,
well-shaped and tended 
by those who love the water 
but need the air.
My kith will coax her 
with oar and sail
to glide above the waves–
Cradling them between the two.

A year or a day from now,
let me see that green flag
fly by the shore
to call me to the beach.
Let me hear that horn blow,
and her name ring out
on the voices of my friends,
loud enough to know each throat’s own pitch.
Let me see each lip’s sly curl of daring and joy
And let all that
drown this whispered reminder
of their travel beyond my reach
this lonesome day.


© 2017 Amy Ripton


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