Five photos, Five Stories Challenge: Day Three

This is a sort of prose poem about The Belem, a lovely old three-masted barque that visits Bordeaux regularly. She was here last week for the Fête du Fleuve, a biennial event. After an eventful life and several owners, The Belem is finishing her life in a dignified fashion as a sail training ship. She was on loan to the Mexican navy until recently but is now back at her home port of Nantes. You can read her history here.

To carry on the boating theme, I’m nominating Andrea Connolly to take up the challenge (rules here).

PENTAX Digital Camera

Skimming the waves,
a tree-crafted gull,
timbers soaked in Atlantic salt,
the three-master comes to rest,
to port,
the calm river waves splashing.
A ship’s lifetime
of ploughing ocean furrows
back and forth
back and forth
she folds her seamed and stitched wings
and dozes in the summer sun.
She dreams her dreams
of breakers and white caps,
glassy green troughs and the bo’s’n’s cry,
prow plunging gloriously, fending the ocean,
and the starless nights and the sheeting rain,
and the full sails straining.
Calm waters now she sails,
with boys for sailors.
She will hold these young men tight,
keep them safe from the towering waves.
She will lose no more fragile lives
in the vast indifference of the sea.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

5 thoughts on “Five photos, Five Stories Challenge: Day Three”

  1. Please allow me to comment that the ship in the picture is in fact the Mexican barque Cuauhtemoc. Hopefully she will visit Amsterdam in August during SAIL 2015, as well as Belem and numerous other Tall Ships.

    1. You’re perfectly correct, Peter. I never understood that bit. The children from my daughter’s school visited the ship in the photograph and were told it was the Belem. My youngest has a piece she wrote about it. The Belem is a regular visitor, as is the ship with the Mexicans. They are very similar though the Belem is slightly smaller I think and the paintwork has some black around the rail.

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