Little Ships

I watch the old man across the street
as he hangs his washing out to dry.
The easterly winds buffet around him,
trying tear the sheets from his hands –
but he holds on tightly, handling the
line like rigging, pegging down the sails,
his feet steady on the patio decking.

Years have passed since that old man
felt the surge of waves, the roll of sails,
the plummeting decks under his feet.
The open seas, just him and Maid Marion,
carrying him safely, through storms and the wind;
yet he never forgets the spray of the sea, nor
the taste of the salt that it left on his skin.

He’ll tell you all this. If you were to ask,
perhaps he’d also tell you of his service in
France; of the day he and his ship fought
against tides, of a thousand men scrambling
under falling skies. He saved forty lives
before Maid Marion drowned, and he left her
marooned, a hole in her prow.

Elinor Cole

Poet for June

Little Ships

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