POEM—SAILOR ON AN ALIEN SEA

Writing

I woke to the pitch and the roll of the deck,
with a rope at my neck and rough planking beneath me,
the foaming white sea spray trying to reach me,
the sky a dark yellow that whirled above me,
and two pale red suns that the sky bled and ran.
I felt a soft touch and my fingers met silk,
and a girl with no eyes took me up by the hand.
Guided by fingers that slid along railing,
her hair whispering back to the sea wind’s lost wailing,
she led me past crewmen that bent at their oars.
With lean muscles straining and braided hair trailing,
they sliced at the water that tumbled and roared.
Each face looked up as we walked slowly past,
and each face was eyeless, from one to the last.
She led to a place at the end of the oars.
I sat and took hold of the long wooden handle,
and lost myself soon in the rhythm and pull,
in the flapping of wings and the screaming of gulls,
in the slapping of water ‘gainst the barnacled hull,
in the two suns that set and the three moons that rise,
in the dark yellow sky that whirls and sighs.
I am a sailor on an alien sea.
I have only the gulls to talk to me.
I have only the wind to hold me up straight and tall,
only my eyes to search for a shore that we never will see.
And a long ago dream that answered the call.

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