Over The Starboard Rail

— Casey FitzSimons

Every day the lacquered
wooden rails, white-painted
metal network too, are scrubbed, suds
ushered to scupper holes. Still, by ten
they’re sticky again with salt-spume baking
in equatorial sun.

Few ships pass, no planes. No birds
so far from land, no clouds. Give up
gazing horizonward, wondering
how far you can see. Give up imagining
whether it’s earth’s curve you see
as you whip your head
north to south and back or only
the centrifugal rise of tears
in your visual periphery.

What you do is lean over
the sticky starboard rail, seek patterns
in furling bow-cut surf, its curl
sustained by friction of the hull, its rivets
and seams. Regularity in froth and chaos,
you look for it, sometimes see moss
caught in the churning coil, flotsam
that darkens the aquamarine, the blue,
the green, but no, never
any such thing.

Still, you make them up, these minor
visions: Restlessness at sea mostly
cancels expectation with repeated
disappointment, substituting fantasy
from time to time, just keeping time, keeping
hope in practice for landfall.

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