old-bay-boatA rotting wooden hull lost to time and tide,
Heady ocean days are gone, as is your owner,
Whose marked grave rests quietly on the
Chapel grounds, a white stone just large
Enough for his name, and weathered dates
Of birth and death. In an ironic way, your
Proud bow has survived, remainder lost,
Fermenting in pungent salt marsh.

According to retired oystermen, their eyes
Dimmed by lifetime on the sea, you were
Once named “Half Shell,” oyster raking
Rig, with old Johnson outboard pushing
You along ocean shores and bays, faded
Memories, word-of-mouth passed down by
Fishing families, no diary of hard days and
Nights on waves, beating sun, heavy rains.

Wearing my tall muck boots, I ventured on
Pine tree-lined marsh exploring your mud-
Encrusted hull. Picking through intact boards
At low tide, I reckoned your were once sturdy,
Open oyster boat, constructed with brass
Screws fastening your stringers, ribs, and
Knees, battered and swamped over years
By repeated hits of Atlantic hurricanes.

What will happen now that I have uncovered
Mysteries about your noble past? Perhaps it’s
Best that you rest in peace like your skipper,
Remaining as your own grave marker, pointed
Bow resting under solemn pines, shielded by
Stands of head-high marsh grass, honoured
With respect each time I pause to say thank-
You for full life of service on the bay.

Found in a salt marsh in Oyster, Virginia, this old boat rests quietly
through high and low tides and is best accessed during winter months.  

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