A ship wrecked off Hatteras, racked,
Swamped, foundered, and pounded under
The waves to flotsam, winds up as silver
Rubble on Greenland’s graveled shore.
Half the keel, once half an oak
Felled and dragged downriver from Portland
To the Essex, Connecticut shipyard,
In the hands of the builder now becomes a roof-beam.
Planks smoothed for the ship’s garstrakes
Hang now on leather hinges—a door.
And loose hunks—shards of mast
And bow-stem—burn in the stone hearth.
Copper, potassium, sodium flare
Auroras of tropic color in the white-out
Of Greenland winter—dream-fringed
Green, rose and coral mineral fire.
In the morning cold in the rubble and ash
A black ingot of ivory-hard, fire-tried
Oak for the carver to figure and pierce
through—a knuckle-size talisman to be worn
For luck around a sailor’s neck.