W. D. Ehrhart  

The Flying Gypsy

    I. Windward
She sits each night near Market Street.
And every night she wears the same
old dress and faded flowered hat
that must have fired young men's dreams
fifty years ago.
A battered Gimbel's shopping bag
holds everything she owns.

II. Leeward
Once, many years ago, I came
by chance upon a clipper ship
tied up beside an unused dock.
The Flying Gypsy was her name,
and in her time, white canvas bent
before the wind, she must have been
the swiftest lady on the sea,
for even then her rotting shrouds
and broken spars stretched anxious
fingers to the gentlest breeze.

III. Windward
I pass that way each night at ten.
No matter that I know by now,
before I see her, she'll be there;
in the quiet, empty street
her solitary presence always startles:
saying nothing, she demands her place
with eyes that stare through pounding waves
and lips still tasting salt.
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    Copyright © 1977 by W. D. Ehrhart
Rootless, Samisdat, 1977
This poem currently appears in Thank You For Your Service: Collected Poems, McFarland & Company, 2019
Copyright © 2011 - W. D. Ehrhart - homepage
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