The winds of November tear past my boat. I sit inside, warm and comfortable, watching as flags and halyards beat upon each other in the fury of the gale. Mozart plays on my computer. It is a good day for contemplation.
Today, I still grieve for my former shipmates who have passed on this month. Two larger than life, gentle men. Lovers of life, tellers of tall tales and great cooks, friends, drinkers. Both gone too soon from us–fighting battles against their respective cancers. How unfair.
I sat down a couple of days ago and wrote this poem. It is especially for Barney Higgins and Ian Relay, but also for all the good Zodiac crew–past and present, and in fact, for all sailors and lovers of the sea.
A Shipmate’s Departure
Zodiac rides at her moorings now, a hush is on her deck
A dock line creaks in protest as its tolerance is checked.
There is no noise, no movement here, all has come to rest
Even gulls do mute their cries, a shipmate’s passing to attest.
The ship recalls the deckhands’ who will linger here no more
Her wooden frames and planking store the memories of nine-score.
Remembrances of summers gone, of seasons long since past
Of souls who’ve raised her sails and climbed her towering masts.
The old ship knows her crews may change, new faces come and go
Yet their passion and their voices shall ring forever down below.
Each shipwright who has corked her seams, every seamstress that has sewn
Every sailor, cook or captain that the boat has ever known.
They all reside within her hull, when their time on earth ebbs low
And raise her sails anew each morn, to seek the north wind’s blow.
For lovers of the sea and ships are bound to this world they share
And Zodiac keeps many souls within her tender care.
So weep not for those who leave us, shed tears of grief no more
We will surely meet onboard again, as we sail towards heaven’s shore.