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.