Promises Richard Shelton poem meaning

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When America closes for the night
and the last ferryboat leaves Port Townsend,
those of us left behind
cannot remember where it is going.

Low tide hesitates, gathers its strength
and begins to return, bringing driftwood,
seaweed torn up by the roots
and a little light to help us
find our way home.  If we were drunker
or younger, we think we might sprawl here
on the beach all night, listening
to the sea’s absolute authority
and to foghorns calling each other
like lost and lovesick whales.

But we are no longer boys
who can sleep where we fall and wake
to begin a new journey.  We have made
many promises and kept some.
We have wives who are not waiting up
for us but whose eyes will open
no matter how quietly we open the door,
and close again when we close it,
having seen in that moment everything,
understood everything, and forgiven nothing.

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