Hurricane Season

The ship set sail in September,
puffed with whatever the summer left over.
Clouds clotted on the horizon.

He was cheerful, rum-cheeked,
captain of the great tall thing.
I was a mermaid lashed

last-minute to the bow. 
With white painted hands 
and featureless breast I was there

to pray away the storms,
an empty-eyed envoy to Neptune
to prevent what my captain pretended

wasn't coming. And so I prayed,
arms at my sides in the sick gray surf.
I prayed, no tongue

in my wooden mouth,
as the ship sucked
into the sea. 

My captain spun the massive wheel
as though the sails would save him.
I was swallowed and spit out.

The bowsprit creaked. 
The ship tossed the captain's body
like a baby. He was dead weight.

The boat went down,
and as the whole mess groaned
his face swept past me,

blank as my own.


So many years, 
we've reincarnated. He's 
the archaeologist fighting

to save the rotting wreck.
I'm the biologist
five hundred feet down, 

drinking cool air like it's water,
learning from the shipworms
just what sunk ships

are good for.

photograph by Ana Cabaleiro
inspiration here

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