In a different time, in a different body,
In a different life, in a different city,
With different eyes, with different clothing,
With a different voice, with a different bearing,
I might have been a stevedore in some tropical
              port of call,

Where I would work long hours in the sun
That beat as it burned in permanent noon,
Reflecting its gift of coins on the water
For harbor children who would dive there
Only to surface with the slime from the bottom
            clutching a button.

Where is the gold that has turned to brass?
In some sea trunk in the tidal trough.
On board the captain glares through the porthole.
I think of him tonight when I buy my bottle
Along the docks where I ask my question
           the hook in my hand.