Dedicated to Captain Gilbert Schugart, Merchant Mariner, Navy, who suffered in cancer's wake.
Valor of a Merchant Mariner
Stormy seas in a warring North Atlantic were kinder he thinks, as he sits
On the gunwale of his land-bed where arthritic shoulders slope to sunken
Deltoids that are rigged high above his veined hands. He tugs no more
At thick ropes that heated his palms to baked calluses. Instead, he struggles
To grasp the soft cotton of navy blue boxers and white undershirt between
Static fingers that are gnarled like tightened knots frozen in cold seas.
He and his doctor know the body of his vessel has stopped and is making
No way through the water: Code ‘M’ from the flag of the seas. “Malignant,”
He scowls, as he gathers the bed sheet, a white sail beneath him that no longer
Billows with the freshened wind but with a stagnant cancer tide, as his
Rheumy eyes drift toward World War II buddies long gone. He rubs
The morphine patch upon his chest: a medal that helps him forget. He salutes
A ghost only he can see - salty wash pulls him further from shore
As he says, “I want to go down with the ship.”
Dedicated to: Captain Gilbert Schugart
See his career-story under my Grace Line ship pages.