by Pierce Nahigyan
Assured, apart from crowded pier, she stepped.
While jacktars jeered in Macy‘s swinging rigs,
I breathed. Then lay my mop beside the mast.
What frightful creature beckons, I thought, and woe
Betide the sailor caught in maelstrom whirling
Behind such eyes, such condescending eyes.
She smiled at me and pointéd to three trunks
Borne seaside trussed to one poor Chinaman.
Staggering, knock-kneed, silent save his wheeze,
He fell upon the planks beneath her chests,
Become quite flat, not dead, a pancaked man;
And she honey trod nimbly o’er his head
Cream smooth, like butter beaming brightly, gold
And gold hair shining danced between a rat
That crossed her way and dog not far behind
To float under the shade of Macy‘s wings -
For pier and poison eyes driftéd tidely
And she not minding stood despite the drift.
“I am your passenger,” she said. “Captain?”
“Not captain, I,” said I. “A bosun, ma’am.”
“Swainboat or first mate, last mate or none,
Rum runn’r or gunner, catfish or cod,” she sighed,
“Fetch hither yon captain wedded to Maude. I’m Maude.”
She flashed her ring. I knew it well. “My skip,”
I said, “sent you that ring, sight unseen, aye?”
Said she was so, his letters she had, his ring
Last thing to trip from lips that kissed, and caps
Can wed whom pleaseth them. “So fetch him now,”
She said. “I can’t,” I said. “Get him,” she said.
“No, ma’am,” I said. “Patience tested, I ask,
Once more, bosun. Get thee thy captain. Do.”
“Respectfully, dear Maude, I’d lower you
An accommodate ladder
Were it my power to give. But, ma’am, our cap,
A brave sailor, tall tale teller, a prince
Of sea, dear man – when in his cups resolves
To marry merry pretty spinsters, and writes
And sings to woo them. Honey, hie thee home.
And sell your gold. ‘Tis real, I know, or else
His many wives would be our endless wake
A’swim behind us churning drunken revels
Athwart those broken hearts we leave where’r
We berth. Sweetie, you have my sympathy.”
She spat and ripped the ring from her finger.
“I need no sympathy,” she said. “Fuck him.”
A finer wife a sailor will not know
As stalked from off that pier with Chinese train
And left upon the salty slimy gang
A golden captain’s ring.