Elegy with Oil in the Bilge

By the time we got out on the water
the sun was so low, it wasn’t like water

but a field of gray snow that we plowed
in one endless white furrow of water

as I skirted the rocks and wrecked trawlers
and abandoned old jetties just under the water,

while you moaned in the bow, slick with fever,
whispering back to whatever the water

chattered and hissed through the hull—
until at last there were lights on the water

and I let the old Mercury rattle and sputter
its steaming gray rainbows out onto the water

as we drifted, at idle, for the last time in your life,
through that beloved, indifferent harbor.

Poem copyright ©2011 by Patrick Phillips, whose most recent book of poems is Boy, VQR Poetry Series, 2008. Poem reprinted from the New England Review, Vol. 32, no. 2, 2011, by permission of Patrick Phillips and the publisher.
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