Meryl Stratford
October, Sailing the English Channel

I watched it again today,
a grainy, black and white movie
filmed almost four decades ago.
Like a ghost ship she sails along.
The camera focuses on self-steering gear:
a wind vane and a tiller that steers
without the help of human hands.
A long line, drifting astern,
measures speed in nautical miles.
The camera looks up at the sails, forward
over the life raft and coils of rope.
It observes waves rushing toward us,
surging away in foam. It studies
lightships in the channel
and the famous white cliffs.
It lingers on the sheen of light.
It goes below to show us galley,
bunks, bins where sails are stowed.
It suggests someone is there,
but no one is seen.
Only a wisp of windblown hair.