But an hour before treading the daily mill
watch, evil bite pointless drudgery. Nautical
miles seem so pretty from the mizenmast.
No noise above, jumping-fish slap cheeks.
Dangerous actually, no life vest nor harness,
thighs all Charlie-horsed from kedging.
In bunk I don’t judge if I’m judging. Sleeping
on deck now, trying to learn star navigation
by drowse, a name per second, a hundred billion
will take thirty-one centuries, but who’s counting?
Seagulls trill shanties in peeling ears. Divorce papers
kindle a bonfire. Aluminum can replace pine.
Logos melt. Smoke signals jig. Maternal love’s absence left
the children to grow and love and hate without attachment
After tying bowlines to a name-forgotten wharf in Chesapeake Bay, I decided to row by myself into the rising sun for exercise and fun. Downtime from crewmates. Face the day-off ahead without rancor. Shrimpers and lobster potters and gurgling trawlers returned home to family dinner. Maritime rush hour. I was making time. Forgot to read the tide. I’d like to share a life-saving lesson: Always row toward the tide and wind first.
Around noon, facing panic and open sea, wondering if I’d hit Bermuda or Ponta Delgada alive. Tad buzzed by in a Boston Whaler. Tad asked, Y’all like beer? Do I? I said. He pitched a Schlitz at my head. I caught. A test? We tied our dinghies together and shucked oysters. Talked tide till Tad asked, Y’all wanna a tow? Do I?
That night, Tad lit the largest bonfire I’ve ever seen. The size of his house. We whirled like Sufis. Tad filled a squirt gun with diesel and howled when the flames shot higher.
David Morgan O’Connor is from a small village on Lake Huron called Grand Bend. After many nomadic years, he is based in Albuquerque, where a short story collection progresses. He contributors monthly to The Review Review and NewPages. His writing has appeared in Barcelona Metropolitan, Collective Exiles, Across the Margin, Headland, Cecile’s Writers Magazine, Bohemia, Beechwood, Fiction Magazine, After the Pause, The Great American Lit Mag (Pushcart nomination), The New Quarterly and The Guardian. Tweeting @dmoconnorwrites. His website: http://davidmorganoconnor.com.