Tuesday, June 9, 2015

To speak as a salty sailor

Robert Seamans at anchor. Photo by Emma
[As the end of Stanford@Sea draws near, us students have gained a new understanding of the way a sailing school vessel operates as smoothly as the RCS. This poem is in celebration of that understanding.]

To speak as a salty sailor
you must first familiarize yourself with my factions, as living aboard a vessel requires a fresh language acquisition.

Folding gently into sea states
I am born anew by fire hoses and long brooms From inside out and outside in to field day, deck wash and dawn clean up standing up to mung is the first order of the sun who measures cleanliness by the prevalence of puns.

After exfoliating my epidermis,
Make haste in machinery spaces to
ponder the inverted peaks of pendulums
and the point at which you hit your head the hardest. 
Then gauge my personal pressure and potable pumps to know the number of rotations propelling each movement.

Disillusion yourself with stairs,
as my ladders stoop steeply with the swell And as you hop on dog tops
remind yourself that monkeys never lean leeward.   
Tilt my tuba feet as you trip from too little sleep and hook my eye in bowlines and lines fouled for each hour the security of the ship nestles close to your ears, perched on shoulder tops.

In the days defined by watch schedules
cover me in sweltering candy from the galley and sugar coat it in mid-rats seasoning to ring the day in revelry with shouts of nourishment travelling from galley to a gimbled saloon.

"Gybe ho!" marks the end of the meal
because helms up but don't head up
and idle hands make idle companions
So voices carrying over the quarterdeck remain reminders of on duty on deck.

Learn to brace my shoulders square to secluded destinations Hoist me high with the days haul stretch me out by heaving on my brails claw at my edges with outhauls and clues to sheet home at the end of an evolution.
And when I luff more than I puff
tie me down with a midshipman's hitch on a rolling science top.

Deployments are dancers after data
And as you drive my J-frame out
cast my shadow into hydrodreams below
Bryant in silhouette our graduating senior.
 Photo by Meghan
And count the first hundred moments that bioluminesce blinds any thoughts of a monotonous open ocean.

When time feels lulled by a northeast swell, be sure to shoot down my celestial circumnavigations and ask me what my heading really is to fix my bow to isolated atolls Where we will fish boat falls to raise miniature boats to reefs.

Sometimes you will find yourself off watch, Inhale the air of the tropics and exhale communal music, and shimmy up my shrouds for sunsets and rig checks.
A round tern and two frigates later
you may find me at rest with the folk in sleepy hollow

and if you have a moment to spare,
be sure to call me Robert C. Seamens.




Dita Hutchinson said...

Bravo Erica!

KarenH said...

Love this Erica! We can't wait to see you and hear all about this amazing adventure.

Trish Garcia said...

Wonderful poem, thank you-
And thanks to all of you who have contributed to the blog. I have appreciated sharing the journey through your stories, reflections and poems!
Welcome home

Raquel Girvin said...

You've made RCS proud, Erica!

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