One Last Visit
By Garland Davis
I walk along the empty, deserted pier,
The old ship swings idly at her moorings,
“Permission to come aboard” I call to the silence,
But only the emptiness replies.
The cooks could be in the Galley,
Preparing a favorite meal.
The snipes could be in the pits,
Making the steam and the electricity.
Where are my shipmates, my friends?
Are they in their racks reading?
Or are they on the decks doing PMS?
In a while, I’ll take a look to see.
I wander through the passageways,
Looking in spaces and work centers.
They are as I remember.
Oh, but it is good to be aboard again.
I sit at a mess deck table
In the place where I always considered mine
I look around and see all the faces
Of all those I that I call shipmate.
I climb down the steep ladder
To the compartment that I once called home
Where I rested my head and listened to the guns
During a time in a younger man’s war.
I touch the chain holding the bunk frame.
An old gray blanket lays on the stretched canvas.
Where is the young sailor who slept here?
Is he in the mirror hanging there?
Will I see him as he was then,
Before his hair turned gray?
Will I see an old man’s reflection,
Or the young sailor of yesterday?
I walk slowly back up the ladder
And retrace my steps through the past
As I make my way toward the Quarterdeck
Where I request to depart for one last time.
Tomorrow the tugs will come,
And take her to the breakers
Where she will end.