Jack Ross Knutson

Christmas at Sea

For twenty-two days the gray overcast
Cast gloom all around	
The rain drizzled down unmercifully relentlessly
It seemed like a world where the sun had never shone
Or would want to
The slate gray sea churned, merging indistinguishably
Somewhere out there with the slate gray sky
The moisture clung to everything so that you were never really wet or dry
Back home you wished a hearth fire burned warm and bright
Ten thousand miles away

The ancient metallic ship, vestige of the second great war,
creaked and shuddered
Rolling like a back-flipped squirming turtle
Just when you thought you had got the rhythm
A sharp pitch lifted her up, rudely dropped her
And a new cycle began all over
Your stomach reluctantly re-adjusted

Blank faces met you in the passageways
Perhaps with a bit of information
Number two is down again, the mate says better get on it
So you did, happy to have purpose and occupation
There was nothing else

At supper you noticed the plastic tree
Planted incongruously on the linoleum mess deck
Green, red and yellow lights blinking garishly
Signaled nothing 
But a testament to the good electrician's handiwork

From the galley came the steel black steward
Burnished biceps bearing a large steaming turkey
On this dry ship a glass of red wine secure in the recess
at every table
Helped the hearth fire burn bright
From ten thousand miles away