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Sea Sick

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To this untrained eye, a boat going looks the same
as a boat coming if it’s far enough away. Mothers too.
Their hair blows cross-ways and who can tell if it’s the
face or that dimple at the back of their heads.
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I had a picture of my mother on a boat once.
Short dark hair, thin, big smile, cool sunglasses.
I showed her off. “See, isn’t she pretty?”
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No, my mother was the one next to her.
The fat, blonde one with the sky eyes.
“Friend of the family,” I said.
No one flagged it as a lie.
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A friend of mine had a husband who sailed.
She said she left him
because he never tied her up in knots.
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Last year, I rowed twenty miles with a boy
I could have loved. But I knew his father too well.
They both carry their alcoholism with shaking hands.
I want to be loved the most.
Not first, like licking the salted rim.
Not last, like a lime squashed upon a tongue.
I want to be loved the only.
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I leave everything before it leaves me:
boys, cats, places by the sea, mostly written novels.
There’s no dramamine can fix that.
My paper boat has a lot of holes
but if I row fast enough
I don’t even notice the cold.
There’s a metaphor here, but I don’t know
enough about boats — or anything else —
to grasp it.
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I thought I wanted to be a mermaid,
trade my tail for legs. Maybe an
octopus, eight arms to strangle and hold.
A slick fish, a squid, a black-eyed shark.
Predator. Lurer. Grasper. Grouper.
My heart’s soft as jellyfish,
as simple and see-through.
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I want to be rocked. Both ways.
Lulled to sleep, slapped awake.
Let me float on your body,
sink beneath your wash.
I’m repetitive and dull as the sea.
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I know I’ll die alone.
There will be no one to wrap
my skull and crossbones in some old sail,
lay me down between wood and water.
No one to set me on fire.
No one to watch me burn.

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About This Poem: I was out for a walk and had this image in my head of a boat. I couldn’t tell if it was coming or going. This might have taken more than fifteen minutes, since I wrote some of it in my head while hiking the mountain.

About Poem-A-Day: For the month of April (National Poetry Month), I’ve signed on to write a poem-a-day (eeks!). To make it slightly easier on myself, my rules are that I have to write each poem in fifteen minutes or less, and that I have to post it here on the blog as soon as I’m done. No edits. Just rough. Raw. Right out of the gate. (Of course, if you’re playing along, I hope you’ll post a link to your poem in the comments here — mainly because I’m selfish and I want to read them!)

See all my Poem-A-Day poems here.

You can also read some amazing poems-a-day over at Sage Cohen’s blog.

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