Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ocean Poem #2454678, or Yes, I Did Check Wikipedia To Make Sure "Binnacle" Meant What I Thought It Did

(I don't want to look at you.)
I want to talk about a ship
with all the rigging, and
another without
how on the first, the salt
gets in the lines, and they get stiff,
a little green. The sheets start to tear along the reef bands
no matter what I do. It all goes
side to side, side to side
and does not sink, so it must be sea

On the other ship, the one
without the rigging, Satcom
signals bend crazily off the bridge
but keep hitting the same spots
in the sky, like someone waving one end
of a jump rope tied to a fence.

In this wet
moment I can haul
them both up, find edges
separate each thing from each other thing
float them apart: from the first
a kind of body, ribs, spine,
so much diffused skin and line.
From the second, a universe:
plumbing fixtures, tight systems of bolts and nuts
an engine-galaxy, twitching and impatient.
And it gets bigger, by a hundred hundred things:
the binnacle flies apart, compass needle wheeling
and I'm keeping track of every atom, like iron filings,
like I could write your name in them
and it would always point to you.

But I don't need a compass. I need a translator.
or whatever manual explains how to collapse elaborate
nautical fantasies into, "hi, it's good
to see you," which is the language
I speak when you're around,
cool and receding, an incoherent tide.

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