(or Florence C. Robinson)
– a scaled-down copy of a
‘full rigged New England clipper’;
or, ‘a direct descendant
of an early
19th-century British naval brig’;
that Valvai thoni

plied long-known
Tamil sea routes; made port
from Cochin to Vizhakapattinam, Aden to Rangoon;
carried rice, spice, tiles and timber
(sandalwood, teak),
tobacco and dried fish;
was purchased, for as much

paper money
as filled the back
‘of an ancient open Buick’;
sailed the Pamban Channel
to Colombo;
arrived in Gloucester, Mass., in August 1938:
her pilgrim crew,

‘turbaned, beskirted’, clomb the yards barefoot
– ‘a fine lot of men, too,
if you treated them right and respected their beliefs’ –
singing ‘lusty sea chanties
in an in-
congruous’ – fine word, incongruous! –
‘biblical English’.

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