He carved her in elm to last…
smoothed her to soft folds…all roundness
to slip easily through elements…
set her eyes to wide gaze anticipation…
and folded her arms upon her breasts
as a calming gesture conveying readiness.
He shaped her for strength
so that when gales encased her
in spume and brittle sea glaze
and her ship groaned with oceans’ turmoil
and mounting billows fought to drown her…
there would come eventual righting
and gentle rocking through soothed waves.
Just as he crafted her for storm,
so he protected her from ravages
of sharp winds…destroying sun
with costly lacquers from Japan…
and from his body…sweat and weariness.
Yet always in his mind…a fantasy
that she would fly with silver dolphins
and circumnavigate the world.
The figurehead in the photo is on the ship “Falls of Clyde.” It was carved by Jack Whitehead (1913-2002).