Maritime

by Mark Kraushaar

Feature image: James McNeill Whistler. Nocturne: Blue and Gold—Southampton Water, 1872. The Art Institute of Chicago.

My wife was nodding, Yes, sure, and, Yes,
and I was thinking of my parents, their sadness
and silence, their every evening’s weeping,
whispery buzz beside the stove.
My wife was nodding, Yes,
and leaning forward when the pastor said, You’re
like two ships passing in the night, and he seemed so
pleased I thought, So one’s a brig-sloop the other a tug?
Or one’s a tanker the other a trawler?
Troop ship and submarine?
Grain barge and gunboat?
I was quiet though.

It was August,
and there were two fans working,
and I thought of those salt-washed gray gulls
with their weird pink feet, and I thought of moonlight
shooting down the starways and cooling the decks.
I thought of two cruise ships next,
couples waving by the railings,
the faintest, farthest sounds of bands and laughter.
But there was nothing funny here.
He was talking or maybe she was, but
here we were, the two of us, our long, horizontal
journey almost over, no frenzied waves,
no reckless wind.
We were quiet, and she was crying,
or we both were, but we were perfectly still.


Mark Kraushaar has new work appearing or forthcoming in Ploughshares,
Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Hudson Review, among
others. His poems have been in Best American Poetry as well as Poetry Daily. A
full-length collection, Falling Brick Kills Local Man, was published in 2009 by
University of Wisconsin Press, and a new collection, The Uncertainty Principle,
will be published by Waywiser Press this November (2011) as winner of the Anthony
Hecht Prize.

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