The Southern Cross

For Capt. Richard Spear
By Kendall Merriam | Mar 10, 2012

You were introduced to the sea

by one of the best – Admiral Morison

at 17 he took you out of The Mess

let you climb the ratlines

let you spread sail from the yards

that salt has kept you 90 years

you carried the paint pot and brush

to find your way on deck

among the 600

in the War your ship was straddled, mined, torpedoed

to no effect

the Nazis missed every time

allowing you to sail down civvie street

for 15 years

to ports from the Persian Gulf

to the USA

when you came ashore

you guided the ferries of Penobscot Bay

for more than 30 years

now you and your wife

inhabit a warm house

filled with gifts of lemon cake

you tell of the Mary A

a ship dear to the hearts

of the lobstermen and women of Matinicus

your humor bursts forth

in a sometimes sly way

such as when you told Ms. Kimball

that you had shot and had stuffed

the odd little puffin

you honor Rockland by your presence

for some reason UMO

has collected the tales of life

of loggers and sawyers

but not the seamen among us so much

this will be a great loss

in the coming years

Albion and Parker gone already

how many who sailed

are ashore with their memories

or gone to the Southern Cross

or captured down below

you are “spry” in body and mind

if local schools had any sense

they would separate out young historian

have them interview you

and all the other sailors of Knox County

Today is a lovely day, before the storm

I hope you are around to weather many more



Kendall Merriam is Rockland's poet laureate.






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