Mid-summer Mary Lou’s getting hauled
across the way, surrounded by the sweaty men
of Weeks Marina. She sways gently in the lift.
Elsewhere, perhaps the Mary Lou
the ship’s named for walks the halls
of a nursing home to greet the dim light.
And somewhere else another
Mary Lou fidgets with a pile of bills,
pouring herself a second bolt of gold
crisp with the light of this morning’s air
that makes clear not all Mary Lou’s
are imaginary, just as all those songs
must have been about someone real
easy to greet and hard to say goodbye to.
Who’d believe such passion can be sung
to a cipher? But one never knows—
no slur against Ricky Nelson here—
or Dante or Petrarch’s woman of the light
that neither was able to hold as wife.
Who’d complain of longing when
one could linger on for toast in bed?
And all those boats named for women
may not be named after one on land.
Still, across the river, there can be no doubt
men are hard at work on the Mary Lou.
High aloft she swings in twin belts of steel,
creaking like the trees that made her.