Offshore in a Paddleboat – SB Merrow

Piloting among islands, miles
of silence and fog, I slide over eel grass
with its reaching, slow caress,

picture the bulbous roots

under ancient water, the same water folded
now into clouds that cross the fickle face of god,
and pass through each other, leaking, wet.

So often out here, men end up dead,

unlucky fish in an understocked ocean.
B.B. sings their lonely blues —
sometimes I wonder, would a matchbox hold my clothes.

Who launched this flimsy boat

into the tidal struggle?  We could be in Paris
or eating oysters at Gertrude’s, dancing to the crackle
of fireplace music, the descrescendo of a vibrating day.

But here among the sailors, displaced

from landscape and shaped by tears,
lives on land enlarged by tellings
retold again on mingled rivers

we leave all reckoning

to the fog, its fluid arms
the nursemaids of form,
paddling forever, it seems,

between these shanties on the bar

and your sea-gray eyes,
my heart a salty hinge that opens,
and re-opens.

SS851234 - Version 2S.B. Merrow lives in Baltimore, where she writes poems and repairs concert flutes for professional musicians. Recently, her work has been accepted by Nimrod International Journal, Tishman Review, Gyroscope Review, Passager, and other journals. She was a finalist in the Naugatuck River Review’s 2018 contest. Her chapbook, Unpacking the China, was the 2015-2016 winner of QuillsEdge Press’ chapbook competition.