Poem: Chappy Ferry

The Chappy Ferry trundles through ice floes on January 10.

By Nan Byrne

The little boat goes back and forth

A steadfast engine against the tide

Shuttling industry from dock to dock

In darkness and in light

The Captain’s granite shape in mist

Upon the open deck stands fast

As island winds reign wild

A weathered silhouette

In field of boiling waves

His yellow drowning suit remarks

The epitaph of souls now lost

Of this untamed place

Wash over bow and lavish flag

Stiff against the chore

We are this boat

We are this fragile wooden cage

Heaving from coast to coast

Steering the narrow channel

Duties set by faith

Struggling against the current

Beneath its surface gray

Like flowers on a garden wall we cling

Half timbered facades to shelter our fate

As pointer star relinquishes North

As reference turns to scratching sand

Slate sky lies heavy above our heads

In God’s open meadow we find routine

Surrender not against the storm

The good endure

The little boat goes back and forth


Nan Byrne lives in Edgartown and is fond of craft beer, the Pretenders, and vintage cakes. The author of two books, and a member of both Cleaveland House Poets and the Martha’s Vineyard Poets Collective, her poems and stories have appeared in a variety of literary magazines including Michigan Quarterly Review, Fiction Southeast, and the Seattle Review, among others. A poem, “Ever Y Loving,” was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.