Tender

                                                      For SRWS 

 

You can see it from the boat—

 

that it's not the ocean;

that it is a lake.

 

The lake alone does not allow it—

the gull caught stale

in sail and rigging; feathers stick the anchor

bend, the anchor fluke—

the anchor's digging end.

 

The papers cannot say, of course:

 

he is not

survived;

Teddy Hays is dead.

  

The boats the lake ensures you see:

Sassy, Fool's Gold, Last Man Standing;

 

no Princess slips, but Lady D—

Ladies I and II.

 

I board the revised version, the second wife.

A rented yacht, upholstered in the 80s;

has berbered walls—

peach-pink,

gray-green,

the color taupe is.

  

*   *   *   

 

You can see the shoreline

from the deck—an ice cream vendor's

selling bottled water. Two girls

empty one into the lake

and stuff it full of

limes and rum and sugar

(mindful of their dresses):

so much for a little Judith Leiber.

 

Inside I hear they serve champagne.

Champagne—why not,

it is a wedding.

  

*   *   * 

 

Helen's husband bought a boat.

 

She said          

            —for fishing,

            for when he comes home on the weekends.

 

He asked her once

           

            A baby or a boat?

            Boat—

he said

            for fishing on the weekends.

 

She said she said

            I get to name it.

 

            What?

He said, when they went fishing.

 

            The Rough Draft—

 

She said, standing at the stern,

           

            —I'm pregnant.

 

If he were not himself, he would be a fisherman.

 

*   *   * 

 

The deck shows where the sound comes from:

a Hasselblad of capping water,

the pilings water

beats and pins;

the netting mossed

and hairy as a lung,

the logs all stemming

starboard at the throat—Champagne!—

the Lady cramps

and nettles;

someone mends

a break, new paint—

Champagne!   —here's to the sailors on the Dark Horse

(To Ted)  here's to your classic schooner!

The working rig.

The boat's boat.

 

*   *   *   

 

What to write,

the papers wrote.

 

We were told there would be fireworks.

 

Fireworks every Saturday shoot off Navy Pier.

 

After all, this is a wedding—so far they have only handed out kazoos.

 

I know, you were only hired for the night,

 

but my date would like to know where you keep the lifejackets,

and we would like to try them on.

 

What people own the Last Man Standing?

 

Yes.

 

I see.

 

And Sassy?

 

Yes, I know you were—

 

I cannot ask the sailors on the Dark Horse.

 

What sort of people name these boats?

 

You have to be the one to tell us.

Why it doesn't—   didn't—   won’t you

 

Yes, I see         Ted hanged himself, I know

 

A plastic bag, rappelling line.

 

I know.                        You were only hired for the night.

  

*   *   *   

  

The papers wrote.

  

The ground is hard.

Too, it kills you.

  

The water stops

and it is cold

for digging.

 

Hot for Tennessee in April.

Even that far south.

 

Flat drafts come in through his fireplace.

Nuclear. No smoke.

 

            No, he didn't—

                        left his things out

 

Had his things out

            —this is me—

 

articles, how-to's, CDs.

 

            No he didn't leave a—

 

*   *   * 

 

Something like this came for Helen.

It got her rag rug easily;

the tabletop. the sofa's feet;

puzzles and the tops of frames;

nothing from the walls could stay.

Nothing wasn't clean.

 

The shape and size of her,

her shoes—the likeness of

a woman, resting.

 

Everything at rest is glass

or iron; fists and matches.

ropes and ropes.