The Midwatch

There is always a watch,
for the ship is like an infant,
needing continuous care and round- the -clock attention.
So there is always a time when you must wake
in the middle of the night,
move blindly to your station and stand your watch;
which is four hours long and an eternity wide
There are, on a ship, just as in a fine pawnshop,
all kinds of watches.
There are lookout watches and messenger watches
and anchor watches and fire watches,
office watches and signal watches,
engine order telegraph watches and fog whistle watches.
And the most dreaded of all watches is the MID WATCH
... which falls between the happy laughing hours of 0000 to 0400.
It is then that you must leave your oven-warm sack
and grope your way through the cold black night.
It is then you are to say to the watch you are relieving,
"I am ready to relieve you."
It is then you pray that God will forgive you for this shocking lie,
because the last thing in the world you are ready to do
is to relieve this sailor,
who miraculously returns from the depths of depression
as soon as he sees you, his savior and redeemer,
his midnight mirage turned to flesh and blood.

This piece was published in the October 16, 1969 issue of the OK City Times. The author remains unknown.

This piece was saved from the USS Oklahoma City Website at: (http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/Quarters/4648/midwatch.html)