Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Parallel Rowing

Parallel Rowing

As he rowed Mystic
River out to the Sound,
He rowed in his mind
The history of seafaring:

7000 BCE, Greeks sail
To Milos in their search
For obsidian;
3500 BCE, Sumerians build
Boats propelled by oars;
2000 BCE, sails appear
On boats of Phoenecians and Cretans;
1380 BCE, a canal is dug
To connect the Nile to the Red Sea;
327 BCE, Alexander's admiral Nearchus
Builds eight hundred vessels for plying
The Persian Gulf to Babylonia;
300 BCE, Carthaginians build and sail
Quinquiremes, ships of five oared levels;
250 BCE, the wondrous Pharos
Lighthouse rises at Alexandria,
That will guide ships for 1500 years;
101 BCE, the Chinese, using the compass,
Make landfall on India's coast;
48 BCE, oxen pull barges,
Laden with produce, up the Tiber,
From Ostia's port to Rome;
29 BCE, Greeks open the ancient
Trade routes from Egypt to India;
40 CE, Hippalus, a Greek merchant,
Uses the monsoon winds,
To shorten, by half, his voyage
From the Red Sea to India.

Here the rower, reaching the Sound,
Turned his shell and retraced his path
Up Mystic River, while in his mind
Rowed back to 7000 BCE,
Reciting dates and events in time
To the stroking of his oars,
Sound mind, sound body
The philosophy he rowed by.

Philip Kuepper
(April 2012)

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