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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Collision At Sea

“A collision at sea can ruin your entire day” -Thucydides

On a cold night,
At a lonely spot,
In the Middle Sea,
Eight thousand tons of ship,
And another ten times as great,
Came together,
When they should not have.
One exploded,
Burned,
And drifted away,
Whilst the other
Could only watch.
In that collision,
And
In that fire,
Seven men died.
Other men,
Trapped,
Fought that fire.
Yet others,
From other ships,
Came to help,
In what truly was,
A dark,
And stormy night.
Two brave ships,
Smaller yet,
Fought that fire
Alongside
The burning ship.
As the seas
Ground them
Together,
The sound of
Steel on steel,
Rang out.

Later,
As the sun rose,
On calmer seas,
What once had been
A ship,
Was now revealed
A lifeless hulk,
Surmounted by a pile,
Of newly melted slag.

As has been said,
So many times before,
In matters of the sea,
There must always be,
- An accounting.
It has always been,
And ever will be.
And so there was:
Two men,
From that poor ship
That burned,
Were sent ashore,
Forever,
In disgrace.

What of that other ship,
The great ship,
The aircraft carrier,
Lit up that night,
As bright as
Fenway Park,
Lit so deceptively,
That even God could not
Have known,
In which direction
She was traveling?
What of her garbled,
And unintelligible
Messages,
That did so little,
To keep those ships apart?
That did so much,
To bring those ships together
On that fateful night?
A small matter.
It was just OK.

Now,
In spite of all the
- Evidence -
They just buried those
Poor seven sailors,
Fixed that ship,
Though wrecked and
Ruined as she was.
It took four years.
And what we call,
The System,
Closed its books,
And soldiered on,
So to speak,
Blameless,
More or less.

And even now,
22 November has
A double meaning,
To just a few,
Who happen to
Have been there.

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