Sailors do say an aft chase is long,
Light after darkness, dark after dawn.
Progress is ventured by scarcely a sign:
Set of a rigging, quench of a limn.
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.
Then there is volley and steel and the smoke,
Pike against borders, stroke against stroke.
After all’s quiet, except for the cries
Of weary survivors, the 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.