Originally published in Breaking Open (1973)

In the night the sound woke us.
We went up to the deck.
Brightness of brightness in the black night.
The ship standing still, her hold wide open.
Light shining orange on the lumber
her cargo, fresh strong-smelling wood.
A tall elder sailor standing at the winches,
his arms still, down; not seeming to move,
his hands hidden behind
black leather balcony.
The silver-hair tall sailor, stern and serene his face
turning from side to side.
The winches fell and rose with the newborn wood.
Orange and blazing in the lights it rose.
Vancouver straits, a northern midnight.
Delivered from death I stood awake
seeing it brought to the cool shining air.
O death, skillful, at night, in the bright light
bringing to birth.

Over my head
I see it in the air.


(c) Muriel Rukeyser