For a Girl Killed at Sea

I see the ships, the plotted crash,
The stateroom’s purgatory trash,
The waiting wedged and still no splash.
There is the torch that burns not through
Unless it drowns the sailor crew
Shoring the bulkhead pinning you.
And then the priest who, being ill,
Intones through steel the bitter pill:
This tomb is your last confession grille.
I think of you awake in bed,
Praying what all the voyage said:
Have done with dying and be dead.
It is a pride in loneliness
Like some propriety of dress
That shuns the water meant to bless;
My hand as from a magnet pole
Works to the Sunday dipping bowl
To spot my tie and cross my soul.

Calvin Thomas, Jr., "For a Girl Killed at Sea" from Poetry (October 1955). Copyright © 1955 by Calvin Thomas, Jr..  Reprinted by permission of Calvin Thomas, Jr..
Source: Poetry (Poetry Foundation)
More Poems by Calvin Thomas, Jr.