For everything on earth there is a season. As for the sea salt, it corrodes like hell... Two sombre ships were anchored in the harbour, Next to each other, hull to iron hull. Its funnel bent into a snobby smile, The smaller stuck her nose in the air: "What type of guy is this? And how uncouth!.. All wrinkled, rusty... nobody at all." Side by side, the two ships Did not bother To look, each felt a mutual Hatred for the other. One of them was on an emergency list. The other needed similar attention, Though to judge her from a distance Meant to founder from sheer fright. The slightly bigger one froze in umbrage. Though a steel-ribbed fellow with a solid bottom, All twenty thousands of his tonnage Shook inside him with indignation. Thus the two ships traded Taunts and insults, Each feeling a mutual Hatred for the other. The weeks went by, and both were seen to. Painters and welders came to treat The rusting seams along the waterline, And the two ships were bandaged. The brass got scraped, the paint was laid on, The steam was turned on, so too the saloon lights... And when the repairs were finished, The ships straightened their decks, like shoulders. The ships eyed each other With smooth sides And realized their looks Had much improved. The bigger one then said to the smaller With a sigh: "Both of us were wrong. Never have I seen women or ships That were lovelier than you." The smaller one, now in the same condition, Whispered that he was irresistible, Whatís big is well seen at a distance, But still, itís even better when close up. Crews gathered round the shipyard, Jostling and curious, But the two ships talked their hearts out, No longer furious. Although a certain harbour authority Dispatched them to different parts, The two ships left the docks together, Hull to hull, as they had stood. Side by side they sailed silently away, Submitting not to currents nor to rudders. The repairmen on the wharf waved a fond farewell To the two unwilling-to-be-parted ships. What was the matter? Perhaps the two ships Had gone off their rockers? Or was it that they had simply fallen For each other?
© de Cate + Navrozov. Translation, 1995