No moon again, no stars tonight. The smell of salt water
in the air. The sound of ripples passing, the oars of dusk
pushing back dark water through the hours. Every night

tied to the mast, until the past comes back again at dawn.
A vessel of breath. Laughter. Singing in October,
the big, low voice surprising from so small a frame.

A long, deep drink of something dark and strong. Wings
and lamplight, the east wind thick with rain. The green
scent of the sea moving inland through crowded pines.

And it was broad daylight when she came to pour this ocean
that rolls out now between us. Still, I launch myself
into sleep every night tied to the mast, while the deaf world

rows, rain coursing through the air in her direction, clouds
rushing westward, the deck tilting, awash with cold waves,
and rocking back the other way, seafoam surging in a trail

behind the ship. Through the rain I can almost see where
wake fades into mist. There would I be, except for these cords
that bind me to the mast. There would I be, overboard.


North American Review, 297, 1 (Winter, 2012): 32.
© 2012 by Kevin Joel Berland

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