Adeline Foster (Instructor of poetry, Hagerstown, MD)
~A Small Ship
A small ship set sail
Out on a troubled sea;
Her crew were not selected,
But came of necessity.
Her captain’s goal was a peaceful land;
Her first mate’s was the same,
Yet each had charted different routs
To reach their common aim.
Unknowing, yet each hopeful,
They tested out the wind;
The raging sea struck at the ship
E’re the voyage did begin.
The first mates heart grew fearful,
Uncertain it could stand,
The cost that loomed ahead
Before, at last they, reached the land.
The captain bravely closed his eyes
To the danger of a wreck,
And despised the fear in the first mate’s cries
At each wave that crossed the deck.
Each ignored the danger as
Their unity gave out;
Each member of the crew set sight
On a different goal and route.
A pirate ship, disguised, came by-
Sowed seeds of mutiny,
So that each raging storm that passed
Took tolls in casualty.
The first mate’s fear was crippling;
The captain’s pride was bold;
Neither had an answer
For the seas that filled the hold.
There were no words of comfort
As each sought to shift the blame,
And the seas cried out in triumph
As each wave sneered at their name
The timbers now were weakened;
The beams were cracked and worn;
The main mast had been broken;
The sails were rent and torn;
The captain trusted in his strength;
The crew were all but gone;
The waves lapped at the crippled ship;
The sea, too late, was calm.
In vain they tried to pump the hold,
As one small comforter
Stood by an ailing first mate
Whose plans were now unsure,
Whose spirit had been broken,
Whose heart could take no more,
And as, at last, they sighted land,
No strength to reach the shore;
So each lowered separate life crafts,
Tossed out upon the waves,
For the sea had won the battle,
And the ship could not be saved.
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