The Ship

The sunlight burned like wire on the water,
that morning the ghost ship drove upriver.
The only witness was a Jersey cow.

Florid and testy, a miniature industrialist,
the steam tug spouted its fiery plume of smoke,
and on the bank the dead trout lolled,

beyond the reach of the fishermen now.
From a distance the fish lay sprawled like sailors
after a great sea battle, the masts and spars

splintered like matchsticks on the water; the mist
hovering over inlets, cannon-smoke drifting
off the now-purple, now-green bloom of river.

In shadow a train inched across a brick viaduct
ruling the still-dark valley,
as aqueducts once bullied the dawn campagna.

The cows resented the Cincinnatus patriot,
knowing they too were bred for slaughter.
The morning was a painting: the battered warship

hung with dawn lights like a chestful of medals,
the barren canvas of the Thames, empty out of respect,
the steam tug beetling to the breaker's yard.

The sun lay on the horizon like a vegetable.

From Macbeth in Venice by William Logan. Copyright © 2003 by William Logan. Reprinted by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.