Thursday, January 05, 2006

How My Man Came to Leave

On November 18th, 1958 the steamship Carl D Bradley
was lost in a gale on Lake Michigan. 33 of her 35 crew
were killed. Most had lived in Rogers City, Michigan. The
ship’s home port on Lake Huron. The Mayor of the city,
Kenneth P. Vugelheim said, “Ours is truly a community of
men who have gone down to the sea in ships.”

Some men work
the factory floor;
some men work
at a trade.
But here men go down
to the sea in ships,
our husbands, brothers,

and sons.
They tell you
it’s to put food on the table,
they tell themselves
that too.
But there is a pull
beyond earning a living.
The lake is a temptress,

beguiling. In summer
she’s a siren
in shimmering sapphires.
A sailor’s seduction ensues.
Through the Summer a sailor's
enthralled with this mistress.
His home and his family

in memory dim.
But Autumn brings
a new look to the lake.
Still attractive, dignified,
but portending a change,
foretelling a graceless aging

too soon coming.
By November the lake has become
a bitter old whore, angry,
short tempered.
She senses her suitors
are longing to leave her,
to abandon her
beneath the coming ice.
But unwilling to die
old and lonely,
that day, Tuesday,
November eighteenth,
in the season of ’58,
Old Dame Michigan
reached up her icy arms,
heaved her mighty breath,

and snapped the Carl D Bradley.
Thirty three lovers
she took to bed that evening,
never to wake.
Only two were left
to tell the fate
of their ship
and of their brothers.

On Huron shore,
home port,
I soon learn the news,
the news I do not wish to hear.
My sailor has abandoned me
to lie forever by the side
of that Jezebel,

(displayed at The Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum )

No comments: