On the Ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles

By Kirsten Abel

Featured Art by Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas

Bright squares of sunlight slosh across the ferry’s deck,
seesawing as the ship sways.

A pool of water flecked with coal threatens to seep up to our feet.
It drifts a little closer with each westward tilt.

You are sitting next to me reading.
The boat rocks worse than ever.

The window frames cast a bar of shadow
across your lap and book and I want to say something

to show you that I’m not freaking out
about any of this: us, the rough seas, the bad thing

my roommate told me about otters the other day.
I used to think it meant I was settling if I wasn’t going around

in a constant state of impassioned panic.
But it’s okay if you don’t like the hat I bought you

for your birthday. And it’s okay that I love you
at the speed of a slow ship full of cars.

The dirty water finally reaches us. It wets the soles of our sandals.
It swells around the bolts holding down our chairs.


Kirsten Abel is a writer from Steilacoom, WA. She has an MFA from Columbia University and lives in Seattle. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue, FIELD, Columbia Poetry Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, and other publications.

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