Invocation with Red Sails

by Anne McCrary Sullivan

Hōkūle’a, teach me how to be on the dark sea
without a chart, clouds obscuring stars.
Teach me how to hold back panic, read the waves.
Teach me to trust the ancestors, who knew more
than I yet know how to know.
I am on the sea now, learning,
making my way where there is no path.
I navigate through terror, seek direction
from each swell of the sea, attention absolute,
destination invisible but I know it’s there.
Others before me have made this journey
in a simple craft. I must make it, too, believing
in a moment when, beyond this tumultuous passage,
I will see a quiet beach, a shining spit of sand.


Anne McCrary Sullivan is author of four books, most recently Learning Calabar: Notes from a Poet’s Year in Nigeria. Her work has appeared in many journals including the Southern Review, Cold Mountain, and Plant-Human Quarterly. Currently, she is completing a memoir located primarily on the Big Island. It includes the poem “Invocation with Red Sails.” Find her on the web at


Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “Invocation with Red Sails

  1. Jean Konzal

    Hello Anne, It’s been many years. So many, those years are just a blur. What a lovely surprise to have your poem reach through the years on Facebook just now. Your poem arrived at just the right time. A good friend, a poet, is leaving for her first visit to Hawaii to visit her sister on Saturday. I know she will appreciate this.

  2. sherri

    thank you for sharing your gifts especially during these uncertain times! truly a blessing!!!

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