Learning to Sail, I Can Only Think of Odysseus and Ask to be Tied to the Mast




What did Odysseus do besides sleep with spiders?

There was no such sixth finger on Anne Boleyn.

I slowly repeat bowline and make a small loop.

Odysseus ate charred meat, the heart

of his wife peeled apart in sections like fruit.

I am made of spiders.

I pull them from my hair each morning.


I let them go, watch the wind

shift toward a wing and terrify

my spine into a bird.

This boat is a delicious

insect blown over the lake, ignorant

of the swallow.

Wind swells around me, takes its

tongue and presses me to the roof of its mouth.

I float above what has turned into marriage.

The fragile film of what you thought

I was and what I

      thought I would become.

Yes, dear —

I haven’t eaten

all your ribs

dipped in sauce and kept

warm with a piece of white bread.


There is something stuck

on my bicuspid.

Seagulls blanket the lake, drift on the wake after

I reach again to touch.

Close enough to stretch my welted

        wrist as a jewel.

Nothing is still, even this water

trembles with flies.

The bruises on my knee

    raise, a full glass to my mouth.

To fail and keep going

makes me feel ridiculous, as I

watch the egret fly.

On my knees to the wind

waiting for its fingers

to wrench the sails loose.

No one but Odysseus

notices that I am

a series of small movements

            on the edge of want

without sirens

without women, only men.

The ducks delay

arrival, waiting

for them to put on a shirt and shut

their mouths.

I try to sleep

alone, covered

with the stink of

         Odysseus and a flashlight

of the moon.

I keep my back to the wind.

There is no, I remember

         to move forward.

I place a star on my

        right foot, star foot.

If I fall, I will wait to swim

and let the cool

        mouth of the lake

drink my spine.

Oh Odysseus, the dead

   are with me

because I

remember them.

There is no apology

for hunger and conquest,

each leaves his name.