Patterns of Life

Our little boat
Swung by, close to the lumber schooner
Almost in the shadow of her gray sails.
In the heat a man was lying along the rail
With a bare mellow back and old duck trousers,
Motionless, absorbed in the ripples,
Absorbed in the heat like a lizard.
At the wheel a thin man was standing
Chewing tobacco, one foot on the taffrail.
He gave us a shrewd look and raised a hand to us.
How many beautiful patterns of life there are, I thought,
And we can only live one and often that is not beautiful —
Oh, is any one of them always beautiful from the inside?
And the white shadow of our sail disengaged itself from gray shadows
And the chug-chug of auxiliary engines grew fainter and fainter in our ears.
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