Sunday, September 22, 2013

How My Man Came to Leave

Yesterday the Sanilac County Historical Society conducted an event called "House in Mourning" at their museum.  It included a cemetery walk where I served as a volunteer.  I read the following poem at the grave of three sailors who drowned in a storm on Lake Huron.  This year is the 100th anniversary of The Storm of 1913. In one week in November eight ships and over 200 sailors were lost on Lake Huron alone.

How My Man Came to Leave

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 wench, 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,
one week
in November
during the season of ’13,
Old Dame Huron
reached up her icy arms,
heaved her mighty breath,

and snapped eight ships.
More than two-hundred lovers
she took to bed,
never to wake.

Few were left
to tell the fate
of their ship
and of their brothers.

On shore, 
I soon learn the news
I do not wish to hear.

My sailor has abandoned me
to lie forever by the side
of that Jezebel,