My lover naps below
while I sun on the stern
in my sundress and dream
myself a woman born
for building ships. In the
cushion of sleep I build
this one as I tarry on our
Alaskan island more than a century ago.
My lover is taken at sea
by a striking pirate
who is, underneath it all,
kind and soft and has
adorned my berth
in silk and jewels from the hold.
He touches me evenly
with kid gloves (twenty-two days at sea
and my thighs are much fleshier stories).
The blue woman and the red woman
etched on his forearms steer
the small of my back. This dreamed
vessel, its handsome
mate, immaculate sails,
the worldly character of the sun looming above,
are all my doing. I make myself
the only woman aboard
my bandit gets to win—a bottle
of port at my hip. What I pity most is the untravelled
stationary woman who at night
falls into blank sleep, and awake,
veers from the world’s distant climes
and men. The breast is a solemn
and familiar place, frightened of setting out—
but the bones, dearheart, the bones want motion.
Map the body’s route then the love you plan
to steal and hoard. If nothing else
stay shoreless. The land
husbands your power.
O serious traveler, ready yourself
to dream, to snatch the sable yawl
from the hulled body of the harbored boat
and row. In your berth with your pirate
when the aged ship rocks
fore and aft, there is no other region
you’ll want more than this. Nothing
as delicious as this old salt in your bed.