The Merchant Marine’s Lover – Matthew Schmeer

Portsmouth, NH: June 1888

When you left me today
I thought I would go down
And watch the ferries leave
This busy harbor town
For the whitewashed seas,
Watch the English freighters
Unload their cargo bays
And listen to the tease
Of other women’s tongues.

It didn’t suit me though;
I found myself back home
Curled up in our old bed,
The blankets stiff, clothes thrown
On the floor, cold, naked
Against the strain of skin
Anchored to your undertow.
Although it was unsaid
I knew you had been stung

Not by words but the spray
Of salty winds, the sound
Of gulls; our history
Too short for you to drown
With quick hostility,
You settled on liquor
To help you run away
From your life of deceit;
Your swiftness left me stunned.

The boardwalk girls have beaus
For each season, disown
Them every night; instead
I nurse my quiet wound
And thank the Lord you fled.
You can’t escape your sin
Enroute to Morocco;
The vice is in your head
You’ll soon become undone.

Do not remember me—
I’m young; I’ll be a wife
Before your ship returns.

mschmeerMatthew W. Schmeer’s work has appeared in Cream City Review, Natural Bridge, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Kansas English, The Connecticut River Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of the chapbook Twenty-One Cents and is active in publishing indie press roleplaying game material. He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri at St. Louis and is a Professor of English at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas.