Sailors do say an aft chase is long,
Light after darkness, dark after dawn.
Progress is ventured by scarcely a sign,
The set of a rigging or quench of a limn.
Close vigils are kept in aft chases, 'though,
Watch after watch and slow ever slow.
The battle may come at a time never sought,
Down the wind quarter and out of the fog.
Soon there is volley and steel and the smoke,
Pike against borders, stroke against stroke.
Then all is quiet except for the cries
Of weary survivors, spars groan as alive.
When time comes for me, for my own bloody chase,
Dark after light, haste before Grace,
I hope I see backwards as forward I flee,
That someone stands there a Vigil for me.
[composed for a friend whose father was then in hospital and not expected to live]