The Mariner’s Shadow

“Ahoy!” he called, through cold-clenched teeth,
The mariner on the prow.
“Avast thee there!” he could but breathe,
“Lest we both go below.”

Wet held the damp’ning brume between,
Both absent wave and call,
Whilst silent ship’s mere shadow seen,
Loomed out the mist-made pall.

“Heave to!” he hailed, though no sound crossed
That slowly closing gap.
“Come thee about!” were words he lost
To sea’s most gentle lap.

Dark loomed the galley now drawn near
And breathless hung its sails,
Above grey wraiths of seamen there,
Stared out the for’ard rails.

“Alas!” he sighed, and they now heard
That mariner on the prow.
“’Tis far too late,” his chill lips stirred,
“For down we soon must go.”

And there did swell the wet waves still,
No ruffle ‘neath billowed mist,
Where long dead fish had had their fill
At old Neptune’s bygone tryst.


Clive S. Johnson

Poet for August