Sylvia Plath

A Winter Ship

At this wharf there are no grand landings to speak of. Red and orange barges list and blister Shackled to the dock, outmoded, gaudy, And apparently indestructible. The sea pulses under a skin of oil. A gull holds his pose on a shanty ridgepole, Riding the tide of the wind, steady As wood and formal, in a jacket of ashes, The whole flat harbor anchored in The round of his yellow eye-button. A blimp swims up like a day-moon or tin Cigar over his rink of fishes. The prospect is dull as an old etching. They are unloading three barrels of little crabs. The pier pilings seem about to collapse And with them that rickety edifice Of warehouses, derricks, smokestacks and bridges In the distance. All around us the water slips And gossips in its loose vernacular, Ferrying the smells of cod and tar. Farther out, the waves will be mouthing icecakes --- A poor month for park-sleepers and lovers. Even our shadows are blue with cold. We wanted to see the sun come up And are met, instead, by this iceribbed ship, Bearded and blown, an albatross of frost, Relic of tough weather, every winch and stay Encased in a glassy pellicle. The sun will diminish it soon enough: Each wave-tip glitters like a knife.

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