Every seaworthy vessel a woman
whose mate, eloquent of how she handled
under the worst of weathers, hailed his goddess
of wet fire, handmaid and dockside whore.
Over the courtyard’s dry dock, linens snapped.
Brisk was the wind that claimed divine right
to salvage whatever tore loose,
brisk at the docks the trade
in foreign plumage, and the milliner,
arms full of wings, who tripped in a puddle
that brimmed with sky. Past the known world,
past the map that decorated a room
with scalloped waters where ships the size
of fingernail parings were never snagged
by the dragon-sharp islands,
a keel of leaf scraped across a pane.
A branch scratched endearments on the air
it then brushed clean as sand.
Had the woman rereading a letter
looked to the window casting her light,
she could have seen almost to land’s end,
the salt sea broken into semaphore
flashing its glassy code for tears
back to shore, seen almost to the cage on deck,
the pigeons gray as the mind,
some to bear messages home the first days out,
the rest to fatten in the hold.