The Ships of Our Grandfathers (a poem)

From ancient oak, petrified with age and waves, to steel. Cold. Our resolve solid. Coal fired. The prelude to action.

We speak our grandfathers’ tongue, sing their songs, stare at the same horizons; but they’d not know this vessel and how she goes.

Steady we progress. We sail with pride. Survive.

This is not paradise. It’s cold.

The situations changes: Action Stations.

Our task, our task group, aye, our boots wet with the Atlantic. Loggerheads to our foe have brought us to attention.

The waves grow where blood flows. In the salt, it stings.

Different from our land brethren, may the worms be kind to them. May the abyss be kind to us if we rest: adrift in final peace. An eternity of uncertainty.

We don’t ask for much. Gulp of rum. Peace? Is that why we fight? Our grandfathers did. What’s not clear?

Men have fallen but the remainder shalln’t halt, be damned. ‘Forward, not aft, we’ll mourn in the morn’ the Sir hollers. Our men, our King, our Commander: we look after one another.

The waves grow where the blood flows. The deck tosses. Line lost. Wait out. Wet clothes, chills. Load the cannon. Grab your sword, rush. Steady. Adrenalin to the kill.

Torpedoes crack the keel; spines crush.

The waves swirl: bloody seas mix us with our sickly foe. We won’t hide. Sea room denied.

The wind howls.

Eventually we’ll be where the wheat grows on yellow horizons.

When the sun rises, will the children sing our songs?

Onward, the next generation to the Strait of Malacca. Do the youth give a damn?

Can’t we have enduring peace? Peacekeeping? Oh, how we wish.

You’re free to speak as you please, just don’t be smug if you’ve never lifted a patriotic finger.

Oh Canada. Lift your head. Thank your great grandfather. Thank your grandmother. Thank your mother! The Queen.

Without a capable sea force, we’d be smashed to pieces.

It’s time to replenish our souls.

Pump the diesel. Ready the engine room. Load the cannon. Ready Aye Ready?

If our country had no muscle, you’d have no life. You wouldn’t be born: adrift in an abyss. A backbone is terrible body part to waste.

Steady. Steady as the ships of our grandfathers. We sail. We sail on.

 

– by Jon Dziadyk, in commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic, 2017.