The trend in adaptations can be blamed on a course I’ve been attending this semester, Adaptive Literary Materials. I was charged with turning a favorite poem into a short fiction adaptation. The following is my little adaptation of “The Wreck of the Hesperus” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
The Lord’s Prayer
“Is it her…is it Moira…my little girl?”
A surge of chilling air assaulted the crew as they hoisted the broken mast from the jagged bay. Cordage, tightly wound around the mast, held in place the porcelain like remains of a young woman wearing a white nightgown. The cold air and ocean preserved the semblance of life, a sleeping beauty.
Removing his wool coat, the captain rushed to the water’s edge, ignoring the impending danger of the rocks that made up the shore, the same kinds of rocks that chewed and swallowed up his galley.
“Is that her captain?” said one of the deckhands. The captain dropped to a knee and held his head for a moment.
“Nay,” said the captain brushing ice from the young woman’s face. “It’s Donnelly’s lass, Trina.”
The crew stood in a circle around the broken mast. Silence washed over the vigil as the foamy green water bathed the rocks. The captain looked into the distance across the bay at a large alcove cut into the face of a five-hundred foot tall crag. Cradled within, rest the Hesperus, his galley ship. The imposing sight was eerily beautiful. The ship lay on its side, the hull facing the bay they stood on. Even at a lean, the remaining mast extended halfway up the cliff face. The tear in the hull created by the rocks was large enough to be seen as a black abyss ripped into the dark wood of the ships belly. Green waves crashed incessantly against the remains but failed to cause the slightest stir. The rocks had claimed her eternally.
One of the deckhands followed the captain’s gaze to the wreckage.
“Where is she captain?”
The captain continued to gaze at the wreckage for about five seconds before looking down at the lass tied to the mast at his feet, her hair frozen to her body.
“God save her from a fate as this.”
The first mate began to rally the men. Leaving Trina on the rocks, they began to cast their small boats back into the water, ores flailing wildly in the cold wind. They charged toward the shipwreck. The captain, a single tear frozen to his cheek, stared into the void torn into the Hesperus. The cold air could do nothing to close his eyes.
As the boats approached the jagged teeth of the cove, a wave roared and capsized one of them. The men, like ants trapped in foam, bobbed up and out of the frothy head of the green waves.
“My God, help me!” yelled one of the men. Cries like this were numerous yet like echoes among the roar of the waters. There was nothing anyone could do but reach the shipwreck. Lives would be lost but nobody could be left behind. The captain, still frozen in stare, would not abandon his ship twice.
Of the four boats that set out to the shipwreck, three survived. This in itself was a victory. Of the boat that capsized, only one man was lost to sea. All is worthy if Moira be among the survivors, if there were any to be had at all. As the men approached, the void became less. Cargo of all colors and sizes spilled from the greying darkness. A shipment of Merlot crashed, leaving a red stain all down the hull, or so they hoped it was the wine.
No motion could be seen outside the ship. Inside, a few crates swung on free hanging rope. The men began to climb the jagged rocks up to their lost vessel, the captain ahead of them all. A few of the men stayed back to watch their little boats, some were clinging to beads in prayer.
“Let them be safe if we are worthy my Lord.”
The captain, still leading the men, crested the point where stone met wood. He earned a splinter as he used the ship to hoist himself up on the rock edge. The others followed.
“My God captain…it’s all ruined.”
“What a mess,” Said another.
The captain continued, never blinking. The men made their way into an opening, yelling to what may now be ghosts.
“Let her be safe if I am worthy my Lord,” whispered the captain.
Bodies of men and women littered the remnants of the ship. The men had to adjust their steps to keep from disturbing them, yelling all the way. As they wound through corridors and passages, they reached a room where stored within were shipments of down and wool. The captain entered first upon hearing whimpering. A woman’s head peered from behind a crate, tears in her eyes.
“Daddy you came back!” yelled sweet Moira. “God be blessed.