The Wreck of the Glasgow

The grave of the steamer City of Glasgow
lies 200 feet from my in-law's beach.
Her bow at the bottom points due west,
straight at the shore she couldn't reach.

She was built in 1891,
300 feet long, 41 wide,
"One of the biggest and best afloat"
for 26 years before she died.

And in those years, she sailed all the Great Lakes
through blizzards, gales, bad seas, and rain
from Duluth to Chicago, Buffalo and back
hauling coal, quarry stone, iron ore, grain...

Twice, at Peshtigo Reef and North Point,
while running from storms, she ran aground.
And once, at dock, she started on fire--
the flames were put out, but the Glasgow drowned.

They raised her, sold her, cut her in half,
built a new aft and launched her once more.
She carried her loads for 6 more years
till the night that sent her to Michigan's floor.

November 6th, a storm broke her in two,
snapped her apart at the dockyard's seam.
The aft disappeared somewhere under the waves,
the bow half went down with a watery scream.

Nothing was saved but the anchors and chains--
the lake kept the rest for souvenirs.
She went to the bottom in '17,
no more to land at the ports and piers.

She's lying there still, 200 feet out,
pointing straight at my in-law's beach.
20 feet under the water's crest,
the air forever beyond her reach.

Sleeping alone in her watery bed,
she dreams of trips on a moonlit night,
of racing ahead of the winter storms
like a wing-clipped falcon, dreaming of flight.

@ 1995
Daryl Hrdlicka