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Sailing to Antarctica

ISSUE:  Fall 2012

The problem is the voices

I can’t get out of my head. On the bridge, the captain’s playing
“Break On Through”; he’s been

Playing “Stormy Weather.” Go ahead, Google World’s

Roughest Crossing.
Shipwreck, and Lost at Sea. Meanwhile, the ship

Is tearing itself

Apart beam by steel beam; the ship is gnawing its own liver
And the sea is eating

Its heart out and wants me to sashay right on by and take

A look. Lean over
The rail, little one, lean a little farther. The problem is the voices. Sea,

Sea, you’re all foam

Vanishing, cry of shearwater and albatross wing knitting
You to sky; you are height

And depth and open mouth, and I am barely a morsel. Sea, I can’t get out

Of my head, or is it you’re
What I can’t get my poor head around, what I don’t know how to measure—

A twenty-foot sea, a thirty-foot sea. Not a falling so much as a

Career, a sinking
So much as a gulp. Measure from where the surface would be

If I could find it, if

The idea of surface hadn’t become a moving target I plummet
Past into the trough and know

No better on the ride back up into yippee, though on the wave’s crest

Three days out
I swear I can see South America. This is the best

Thing ever, clinging

To the rail watching another wave crash all the way over the bow, over
The captain high

In his bridge, the captain who will carry us through with his instruments

And playlist and steel-hulled
Gut, though he says everyone has a threshold, even him. Chris and Jenny,

Most of the passengers

Green in their berths along with half the crew. And me, I am used
To the world appearing

To wish me well. All those summer weeks spent reading in the Jeep

While Dad careened us down
The roughest roads he could find, Mom rigged to some near

Cliff face by

Thin rope. Isn’t a mountain a wave moving slow? I am
Used to the best

Kind of luck and a stomach that can ride out anything, even

The swell
Of my own hubris. All day I stand on deck with the birds

And spray, birds

That can sail across oceans without moving their wings. Wherever
I look, infinity’s blue

And gray, and I say Okay already, give me all you’ve got.


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