Issue 169, Spring 2004
We are separate and will separate more
our flock beds and bolsters, our porringers
and pot hooks, brought into homes wrought
by whipsaw. The men are still wearing their ruffs
like fans of wafer. They must deteriorate slower
than our fasteners, all gone to rust under a damp
bonnet. I accommodate to shore where codfish
bones are found and serve as makeshift combs.
We disembarked from berths cramped and hot.
Parched in illness, I took mine with a mouth of salt
water unable to wait for the lowering of the boats.
In the weight of my dress I foundered, the cold
ached only so much as an onset I will never forget.
In a wash of sand the sky was one of several out
of joint and like the cormorant I crowned from under
the surf. Crashing in counterpoint to my own murmur,
I stood by the others with a trunk of widowed worth.
Now it is said that, with caudle cup and time, we steady
the hand that reaches for the taper before we are proper
in sleep. A wax melts inside, already there are antinomian
cries and a pensioner’s slow moan. The outsiders continue
their tomes on land. The black creatures they name are just
drift whales. We are dependent upon for everything. I sing
with strangers and no one talks about what was left behind
in the bowels of the ship. On its return they will find nothing
but vaporized chambers of those that were rendered
too significant to have been kept or thrown out to sea.