There is dignity, even in hauling coal,
when masts stand tall with sails unfurled
as they hold the wind as their own.

But treacherous waters care not
for dignity when the wind howls
and waves rise to meet a bowsprit.
You drew the short straw in that lottery,
your life cut short after eighteen years,
your graceful lines no match
for the rocky shore that met them.

Within the shallows of that narrow bay
where you’ve lain for a century,
you know no wind, yet you have
a view of the sky that holds it,
so blue during days of calm, or darkened
gray when those winds swirl. The water
around you, cool in any season,
steals from you that rippled view
in winter, yet offers a cool blue light,
nearly electric, filtered through its icy ceiling.

And though we may walk above you
in your winter obscurity, we can still imagine
you as we might on ice-free days,
when, though your masts are gone,
you are still known as Sweepstakes, your lines
still graceful before the winds you held so dear.

This poem is my response to Misky’s Twiglet #259: cool blue.

I started scuba diving in 1981, and during the 1980s I made several trips to Tobermory, Ontario, and the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Twenty-two shipwrecks (and likely more) can be found in this underwater preserve where scattered islands create a hazardous passage into the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. The two-masted schooner Sweepstakes, built in 1867, struck Cove Island in 1885 and was towed to Big Tub Harbor at Tobermory, where it sank in twenty feet of water. The shallow dive was always enjoyable, and I even made a trip to Canada to dive on it as a part of my Ice Diving certification.

Image source: screenshot from YouTube (Sweepstakes in the winter) ~~ click for larger view
Map source: Wikimedia Commons

20 thoughts on “Sweepstakes

  1. Nice write, Ken. Never dived, but always watched Lloyd Bridges in Sea Hunt when I was a kid & dreamed of what it’s like.

    PS: My copy of Vita Brevis’ Nature Anthology arrived today (several days before prediction) & I really dug your pieces. You always manage to make the reader feel like they’re in that kayak with you. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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