SHAMING THE STORMY SEAS

figurehead

(regarding the legend behind female figureheads on ships)

under the fraudulent cover of a soporific oh, so slender decresent moon

a harem of brazenly snooping sparkling stars affording sufficient glow

the small craft makes light work of glinting, inconsequential ripples

carrying she of captivating looks and charming demeanour away

surrendering the hustle and bustle of Tripoli’s manic harbour

for El Mina’s gulf and sanctuary of this resting rover’s ship

the overmuch amorous sheik back in Bagdad overlooked

her talent of foresight, seeking to tether both she and

her cloaked duplicitous affections by draping her in

opulent golden bangles as article of ostentation

bangles by insistence she declared should be

set permanent, fixed about her petite wrists

oft glimpsed ankles and much kissed neck

no stinking rich emir ever the match

for a Machiavellian mademoiselle

bent upon profit and swift

getaway on her mind

golden adornments

travelling as part

of her brazen

being

I knew full well that laying claim to the lives of the unsuspecting and seeking out untried antidotes for seasickness were masked by titanic beauty beyond measure, false manners beyond refute.  Still I cared not a jot, my promise of safe passage back to Tilbury for the price of just a worthwhile few shavings of gold, sufficient. Not so my superstitious crew, believing as they did the old adage that a girl on board ship angered intemperate seas that would take out perilous retribution.

Safely outside the Pillars of Hercules, north into Biscay’s Bay the seas turned foul, tempest beyond measure, the ghost of Jonah nod. Yet, leaving the relative safety of her quarters, she took to the deck

unperturbed by ill looks of fearful mariners of unfounded fears.  Seemingly satisfied as to the general state of affairs, she returned below deck.  As if by magic, the storm abated, all was quiet, Davy Jones downhearted.

Later, from the warm comfort of my captain’s cabin, “You have no figurehead captain?” she observed over a salted beef dinner, adding, “Surely, you’ve heard tell the bare breasts of a women perched on the bow of the ship, ‘shames the stormy seas into calm and her open eyes guides all seamen to safety’?” Plainly I responded by advising that of course I knew, yet put it down to an old wives’ tale.  “Then you really know nothing, do you? Back in London you will forego your golden fee, instead I shall model for your figurehead. An equitable arrangement do you not agree?” I found such overture impossible to refuse, she had me in her spell. Even my crew thought well of her proposal, notwithstanding lost income.

Regardless, model she did, our heroine she became. It was a good likeness and over time her figurehead became the very spirit of the vessel of 1,000 more violent commotions adrift.  Upon departing for ‘wherever’, I felt compelled to ask of her, “That night of the storm, you made for the bow I recall…you didn’t…surely not…did you?” Her riposte, “I’ll leave that to your imagination.”  I never saw or heard of her again.

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47 thoughts on “SHAMING THE STORMY SEAS

  1. Female figureheads are rather ironic considering real women were considered bad luck on ships…but then I guess men always compartmentalize the real woman versus the ideal–sailors being no exception!

    • Cheers for the comment. In my humble defence, the gals in my stories always win. It is an interesting tale/legend as to how they where chosen as figureheads to calm the sea. Had the tall ship I spotted in the harbour not been there, I’d have never researched the history.

      • It is a lovely theme. And you are very chivalrous! Once in London I saw Sir Francis Drake’s ship The Golden Hind; the masthead was…golden and the head of a hind.

      • We can all use more magic. I remember loving Greek myths at school, and being fascinated by how every culture makes myths behind everything. Read funny twitter about that, though; it was pic of Mt. Olympus with caption: Ancient Greeks Thought Their Gods Lived Here. It’s Not That High a Mountain–Why Didn’t Anyone Ever Climb It & See?

  2. I never knew where that tradition came from! Interesting historical tale. I personally don’t think women’s breasts are all that shameful, and the heroine of your tale probably didn’t either. She seemed to be looking for an excuse to have hers immortalized 😉

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