In a town by the sea, where the salt air’s free, Lived a widower and his daughter. She was known as Claire-Kate; or by title First Mate On those days when their boat sailed the water. And it happened to be that they put to sea As the sun slowly sank to stern; And the waves, although rough, gave them reason enough To delight at each bank and turn. As the evening grew late, the sea-loving first mate Made her way to the portside bow, Where she pondered the flow of the torrent below— At which moment a wave struck her brow. Thus she fell to the deep in the downward sweep, While her father, unknowing, slept; Where he dreamt of the day, and the backward spray Of the waters the bow had swept. Coral sand made a bed for her pretty head: Strands of kelp formed a band for her hair. Schools of fish powder-blue swam in close for a view As she lay near a stingray’s lair. When her father awoke, though he loudly spoke, Not a hint of reply came through, And a search of the deck found not even a fleck Of the mischievous smile he knew. As the truth became known that he stood there alone Midst the swell of the sea and his tears, He declared: “Let my girl— my most precious pearl, Find a life free of mortal fears!” Now when fishermen meet at the inn on Wharf Street, There is told of a mermaid blue; With a band in her hair, and a smile light and rare As a lingering coastal dew. David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.