Friday, February 22, 2013

A Seaman's Woman

I watch the way your
Work gnarled hands
Comb through your
Tangled thinning strands
You reach for your storm-worn jacket
You grab your lunch
and kiss me "Thanks"
Your boots walk heavy
on the planks
I begin my waitful watching.
Sun warms the day
but not the seas
Over the side legs
swing with ease
Though slower than the day we wed.
Our grandson follows
quick behind
Hops in two young legs
At a time.
And runs his hand through tousled locks.
The day begins
for you anew
But it's no longer
mine to view
My life of sea is here on land.
I know the seas
that call your name
I've known that voice
and heard the same
I've baited and wrestled with ropes.
Side by side our
lives together
With winds, waves and
storms to weather
Until Salt and Sweet brought new tides
With life's new
challenges in hand
Though my sea heart
was grounded on land
It beat with you as you kept the tides.
Till you returned
from cold wild sea
For supper and
warm bed with me
These days and years skimmed by.
A son of the sea
Sweet left to marry
But Salt remained
to help you carry
Our name and all the load.
Son of Salt growing,
filling your boots
Puts down his
seaweed roots
And feels that tug on his oar-locked heart
Mirroring your moves,
Old Salty, beware
Your grandson watches
what you share
Becoming his own man of the sea.
And he will be strong
and happy as you
If he finds
his sea-woman true
To share this salt and sweet life.

Donna JT Smith, 2013

I should be writing about my trip and my grandson...but I guess in some respects I am. I started this poem a while ago, finished it, and then reworked it into this rhyming format, which I finished today. Though not men of the sea where I'm visiting  in Pennsylvania, the plot is still the same.


  1. It's beautiful, Donna. I like the way you 'mirrored' the grandfather & grandson throughout, and the rhyme scheme is cleverly done, made me read it aloud, rather like ocean waves... I loved this "Your boots walk heavy
    on the planks/I begin my waitful watching." You are an inspiration in the poetry!

    1. Thanks, Linda. I liked the rhyming version better than the first, and I was surprised when it did feel like the flow of waves when I was done. I'm having a great time watching my grandson watching his parents so closely.

  2. Like Linda, I love the way you wove together grandfather and grandson - each reflecting something of the other. And I love all the sea-specific words - the particulars of a sea faring life. Beautifukl poem, Donna!

    1. I love watching how children imitate their parents and grandparents, and seeing how traditions are passed down.

  3. Beautifully done, Linda! I love the lines:
    "Puts down his
    seaweed roots
    And feels that tug on his oar-locked heart"
    I felt like I was sitting beside you watching, too. Thanks for sharing. =)

    1. Thanks, Bridget, that was my last edited area in a rewrite. I struggled with how I could say what I needed to express about the deep roots so many families have in fishing here.


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