Nightmare Sea


Aquarius_Equus_by_M_SkirvinAloft aboard a bucking ship,
athwart a white-maned roaring sea,
even your toes seek for a grip
‘fore mad-horse waves can buck you free.

Rearing wave like a mustang head,
flaring nostrils and sea-foam mane,
looks back with an eye ghostly dead,
arches and tosses the ship again.

A moment’s lapse is instant doom,
no prayer of mercy given,
plunged into the foaming gloom
or against the decking driven.

Cling fast and fight with flapping sheets,
fist and furl and secure the sail
while lashing wind against you beats,
and whips the rain into a gale.

When at last you descend to deck,
the vital duty completed,
you’ve bought a chance the ship won’t wreck
with life force nearly depleted.

Cling fast and claw your way below
for a moment of well-earned rest
knowing, when called, again you’ll go
aloft to face another test.

– – – – – – – –

Image Credit: Aquarius Equus created by M. Skirvin for this poem.

Comment: With the first two stanzas of this poem, I had a mental image seen through the eyes of the sailor clinging to a yardarm high in the ship’s rigging. As he watches, an arcing wave briefly takes on the aspect of a horse’s head, with wind-whipped foam becoming its mane. The head turns slightly to regard the ship in the trough of the wave that has become its back; fixing the sailor with one ghostly eye before turning again and plunging head-downward as its back rises, bearing the ship upward as upon the back of a bucking bronco in a rodeo. If I had the artistic skills to create that animation, or even a still image of its crucial moment, I would probably be able to have a steady income for life. I was fortunate to instead have a friend who created the image for me.

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