The Morning of Departure


Speak of departure where ships
rest near piers like husbands next to wives,
quelling the night. And between each,
a plank, balanced like an arm, where tides
goad the fragile grip. And some nights,
nothing in the harbor grips,
except the plank with creaking reach;
the moon with cold and fading light.

We never talk about departure;
how what erodes must always find the sea.
Now, between us, water falsely stirs;
tending lines strain and the engines lure.
A ship, a pier, cannot each other be.
O my pier, grasp the shore, then cling to me.


Philip Venzke grew up on a dairy farm near Colby, Wisconsin (where Colby cheese was invented). His most recent poems have appeared in Verse WisconsinEchoesThe Wisconsin Poets CalendarSheepshead ReviewIllumenThunderclap! Magazine, and Right Hand Pointing.

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