I am the grit in the gears, the missing bolt, I am the poker of sticks into spokes.
I like to know how things work, but sometimes when I take them apart and rebuild them, I have a few pieces left over.
I am a man, so I tend to leave reading the instructions until after it goes wrong.
And like all men I have a comprehensive mental map of the world and never need to ask directions.
I never get lost, only sometimes I'm late, or end up in the wrong place entirely.
It's what we do.
When I was just a little boy, Before I went to school, I had a fleet of forty sail I called the Ships of Yule; Of every rig, from rakish brig And gallant barkentine, To little Fundy fishing boats With gunwales painted green. They used to go on trading trips Around the world for me, For though I had to stay on shore My heart was on the sea. They stopped at every port to call From Babylon to Rome, To load with all the lovely things We never had at home; With elephants and ivory Bought from the King of Tyre, And shells and silks and sandal-wood That sailor men admire; With figs and dates from Samarcand, And squatty ginger-jars, And scented silver amulets From Indian bazaars; With sugar-cane from Port of Spain, And monkeys from Ceylon, And paper lanterns from Pekin With painted dragons on; With cocoanuts from Zanzibar, And pines from Singapore; And when they had unloaded these They could go back for more. And even after I was big And had to go to school, My mind was often far away Aboard the Ships of Yule.
Bliss Carman (1861 – 1929) was a Canadian poet-Laureate.