The Ship: A Ghost Story

Once upon a time

a lonely ship

sat arrested in the sea 

tethered tightly

to a steel Dock 

by a hemp Rope

Her deck was 

weathered and splintered 

In chipped and cracked red letters 

her name was scrolled upon her hull:

“PERSEPHONE” 

Her figurehead was 

the carved bust of a Siren

with head thrown back

arms stretched upward to heaven 

Around the Siren’s slender waist

the hemp Rope was bound

half green with algae 

half bleached white by the relentless sun 

brittle and fraying 

but with expert knots 

too sure to ever come undone

The PERSEPHONE had bobbed 

up and down in the waves 

endlessly and ceaselessly 

for how long, no one knows

but each time she rose and fell

with the tide, her Rope slid 

along the unforgiving leg of the Dock

The ship longed to sail 

though her sails were tattered 

her shrouds, defiled

her mast, broken

her rudder, frozen

She pleaded to the dock 

to bring her a sailor 

The Siren on her bow sang day and night:

“Oh bring me a lad 

with a sea weary hand 

but a kindness behind his strong touch 

Oh bring me a man 

who will sail me to land

and I’ll rest in the sand Evermore”

But the cold steel Dock never answered

It is said she endoured 

this lonely, ceaseless surf

for almost nearly forever

until the hemp Rope 

was worn thin

and the sharp steel of the Dock’s leg 

began to dissever it 

One day,

the wearied Rope gave

falling away from the Dock

and collapsing to the ocean 

clinging desperately to its surface 

by tattered strands

drowning, at last

Some folks say

that the PERSEPHONE set adrift to sea 

receding further and further 

away from the Dock 

until she was in deep waters

rocking wildly on her battered keel

waves crashing over her sides

she took on seawater

until her stern went under

until her bow went under

until nothing was left 

but the Siren

hands stretched to heaven 

and then only her Rope

Some folks say 

that another ship sailed by 

and that the captain of that fine vessel

reached down in time 

to grab her Rope 

just before it, too, went under 

and he towed her to safety 

to the other side of the world 

Others say she is still down there 

beneath the surface of the black water 

waiting to be discovered 

by some deep sea diver 

with romantic notions of buried treasure

But perhaps her ghost 

has come up from the depths

sailing swiftly back to her Dock

tethered there once more 

to sing to him, endlessly

It is said that if you stand near

under a full moon on a cloudless night 

you can see her silhouette 

I’m sure you’ve heard her voice 

haunting him

Other folks say 

PERSEPHONE was rescued 

before the vast abyss of the sea 

could claim her

Restored and repainted 

by caring hands 

renamed the “APHRODITE”

Sometimes she sails, swift and sure

past the steel Dock 

but he doesn’t recognize her anymore

Though I used to stroll by her 

along the boardwalk 

on dark days 

when the mist hung on my face like tears

I do not know what became of her

I walked away from that shipwreck long ago