Water, Water, Everywhere by Allison Light

The sailor keeps his sunsets bottled,

and they line his shelves in perfect patterns

waiting for the domino effect to claim them,

to set them all off one by one

until the days are as brief as a highlight reel

and the end of the line is just another

empty hook, empty stomach, empty bed.

There is sand in his smile and surf in his voice,

and seagull-feathers snarling in his hair

as if he’s sprouting them himself, as if

the crow’s nest is his launching point.

 

But that’s wishful thinking, and

wishful thinking doesn’t last long here

before it becomes salt-stained and sun-spotted

and yearning for land.

 

The last wishful thought was tossed into the deep

as an offering for good winds, bundled with

rejected prey and rejected prayers. It floated

for a while, cloaked in sea-foam and disguised

as a good idea until it began to

glint like pirate’s gold and sink

just as quickly.  It belonged to a skeleton

and his ghosts who shared a bunk and died

of the irony of all this water and nothing to drink.

 

Every so often,

a marble palm is seen grasping at waves

and slipping straight through,

inky sky melting into inky sea.

 

And despite the twenty-seven different knots

supposedly holding her together,

the ship’s sides are splitting, each wave

carrying her another tide’s length away

from home.  There is no buried treasure here—

only glittering ocean and

all that lurks beneath.