Who can resist a challenge? So here I go with an attempt at a 30 verse poem, writing one verse a day beginning January 6th 2012. Untitled as yet.
In his mind he sees her waiting
from his cabin on the ocean
chews his sandwich without thinking
hopes he’ll make it home tonight.
From the ocean he can see her
dressed in blue just like her eyes
waiting for his boat returning
furling foam, The Mary Blythe.
By the window she is pacing
By the window she is pacing
been awake since early morning
heard him leave his silent footsteps
heard his truck cough into life.
Now she smells her toast is burning
mug of tea slips from her hands
wishes she had smiled or spoken
told him of her dreams and plans.
Dawn is breaking, leaves the harbour
thrumming seawards into light
stenching diesel fills his nostrils
sorry to have left his wife.
Swore he saw her by the window
as his truck pulled from the yard
wished he’d kissed her on their pillow
looked above and saw no stars.
All the while she scrubs and vacuums
drowning thoughts in whining hums
folds her arms, unlocks his letters
harking back like banging drums.
Smoothing movements of cold linen
shaking memories of that bed
wondering what her life would be like
if she’d chosen him instead.
Baited traps with crabs from Digby
swell is high but matters none
leaving Medway Head behind him
forges forward through the foam.
Fishing’s always been his life’s work
never was a second choice
learning from the ocean’s fathers
til’ one day he found his voice.
Checks her Facebook and her Twitter
hoping still to see his name
bastes the ham and peels potatoes
feels her life is too mundane.
At the window sees the bluejays
bantering, clacking at the feeder
looks beyond out to the mailbox:
does anyone love or need her?
Storm clouds bulking on horizon
In choppy seas while hauling traps
he concentrates on work in hand
doesn’t think about her anger
muscles flexing, heaving straining.
Dance last Saturday forgotten
when he watched her flirt about
Willie Nelson singing Nothing
I Can Do About it Now
Reapplies dark brown mascara
slicks her lips with glossy purple
dries her hands on skinny blue jeans
decides against pouring a drink.
High boots zipped, slips on her jacket
grabs the car keys and her iphone
heads to town in search of answers
knowing she can’t be alone.
checks position, checks the time
knows the risks of staying longer
but the quota’s on the line.
Thinks of her for just one moment
heaves and hauls with all his might.
Strong arms pulling, soft heart wishing
he was home to make things right.
In the town sits at the window
in the tearoom by the bay
stirs her latte while she’s waiting
for her life to drift and stray.
Girlfriends titter in the corner
old men’s teeth grind Timbit snacks
chatter stops; shocking in silence
as they hear the well-feared thwacks.
Sea is heaving, dark clouds rolling
knows it’s time to head for shore.
Overhead the ‘copter’s whirring
turns instead to help the cause.
Out at sea a friend’s in trouble
not a moment’s hesitation
points the Mary Blythe back seaward
in his heart that strange elation.
Hears the Coast Guard in the distance
heart is thumping hits the road
tries to punch in all the numbers
knows they’re busy, head still grumbles:
‘Been there, done that’ not the first time
panic hits as thoughts of ‘what ifs’
pushes idle whims to one side
should count blessings, should count gifts.
Ship to shore is not responding
knows she worries, wants to hear
ploughs on through the dark’ning waters
searching life not feeling fear.
Not the first time this has happened
loves the ocean, loves to fish
a second love back there on dry land
making choices leads to anguish.
Groaner’s moaning with the storm surge
cannot hear but knows it’s there
over and above her heartbeat
slamming, pounding in her forehead.
Sitting at the kitchen table
tea stone cold, her mouth bone dry
as tears delude, like summer’s
dust that always blows away.
Storming through the angry seas he
sees the Coast Guard overhead
gets the message they don’t need him
turns and heads for Port instead.
Tries the ship-to-shore once more then
on his cell phone speed dials home
thankful he has got a signal
heart slams with the busy tone.
Mind is racing phones her mother
always knows just what to do
wives of fishermen can handle
more than most, (she’s making stew.)
‘Heard the Groaner and I wondered’
Mother says in low calm tone
‘stay right there, I’ll come on over
be sure and keep right off the phone.’
Thinking back to all the stories
guys he’s known since he was small
tales of drownings, misadventures
boats that sunk with loss of all.
Knows the perils, knows the dangers
knows the power of the sea
grabs the wheel and steers her homeward
thankful for the Lord’s mercy.
Coffee gurgles sits in cold cups
waiting always makes things worse
Mother whispers eat a sandwich
drink some tea, but please don’t curse.
Cannot help the words that come forth
kicking self’s a bad cliché
wishes she could take it all back
wishes it was all okay.
Traps are hauled, the wind’s still howling
seas’s as black as Nanny’s grate
Mary Blythe has little trouble
tackles swell just like his Mate.
Sees Medway light on the horizon
knows one day before too long
the light will go just like the others
removed, replaced they know it’s wrong.
Ringing phones - strange cars in driveway
wonders which to answer first
for a second, then no contest
caller id - fit to burst.
‘Thank God’ she cries ‘I been so worried
are you on your way back home?’
Gives her mom big loud a thumbs up,
Mom smiles back and mouths ‘well done.’
Light is failing on the ocean
sheens of phosphorescence gleam
like ammolite from far off mountains
minnows flickering through a stream.
Standing firm inside the wheelhouse
trusts The Mary to get to Port
as she’s done for year on year now
uncomplaining with all he’s caught.
Now she’s in a fit and flurry
working out just what to do
first or last it doesn’t matter
wishes she too had made a stew.
Lays the table, finds the corkscrew
boils up sauerkraut with Greeks sausage
doesn’t think to check her facebook
showing that she has a message.
Lets his mind drift to the old days
thinks of how things used to be
how he loved her, how they laughed
memories danced to the beat of the sea.
They were young and full of promise
exciting plans for kids and travel
hopes and dreams dissolved in time
closes his eyes, misses the channel.
Darkness falls and he’s not home yet
the yard is as still as the grave.
She’s waiting for truck lights, the snarl
of his diesel as evening light dwindles and fades.
Mother’s gone, thinking all’s well that ends well
but Her mind is chilled as late supper
in the back of her mind is the one consolation:
Her Man is the best of all skippers.
Caught in dreams of hidden pasts
the alleyways of life that was
he steers by stars, he drags at speed
unseeing of the decks awash.
As frozen ground the ocean’s swell
controls his path, his destiny
he loves her well, his Mary Blythe
and calls ‘you take the best of me.’
What is it that she can’t quite see?
elusive feelings out of reach
a call? a cry? or just the gulls
swooping diving on the beach.
She catches, snatches memories
of déjà vu and headless dreams
of senseless storms and missing boats
and of those lost to mysteries.
He knows he loved her just as much
as Mary Blythe or so he thought
how can he tell? Is it too late?
dim moments flicker of times apart.
In the drizzle of images
in his head now, he sees her smile
tilting her chin, the light in her eyes
stepping hand in hand down the aisle
The lump in her throat has never been so hard
to swallow with her mouth as dry as
summer’s dust the news will come
she dare not think or hope or ask
if he is found, if he is gone
or if anyone has heard or seen
she dare not cry out or moan
but pulls against the guilt that’s her’s alone.
What’s left to do but pray maybe
and let the life he’s led dance, flirt and flit
before his mind like in the myths oft told
by seafarers laced with spice and wit.
What’s left to do but push away regret
and hope that she’ll remember days when
life was good and smiling laughing nights
were theirs and theirs alone.
By the shores of Medway Harbour
plovers trickle, seabirds swirl
waiting for the boats returning
swooping, diving, screaming gulls.
On the wharf she stands before him
dressed in blue just like her eyes.
She waves to him and blows sweet kisses
up to the heavens, into the skies.