'The Edge of the World' by James S. Dorr


The poem below won the annual Balticon Award in 2006. It was first published in 2006 in the BALTICON 40 PROGRAM BOOK (Baltimore, 2006 )

Ultima Thule weeks behind us
we bear onto nor'weat unmindful of wind shifts,
the swells that opposed us now swirling, churning,
our sails taut as steel.
Our captain, an old man, hand clenched to that tiller,
says nothing as we climb the masts to trimcanvas --
he stares only forward.
To where the skys darkens,
We cling to the ratlines, reefing points salt-stiffened
fighting our grasp and we pull sailing,
the hull backs, our ship cants - two men go over
shrieking in blackness - while far below our rudder grips aether,
our keel lifts, groaning , above the ocean's fall.
Star points surround us and all, for a moment,
is silent until we hear rushing of comets --
The music of planets as we girt the moon.