my second published poem, appeared in Amelia Magazine

Advice

Ned Hayes

(to a writer: remember, some old boats never sail.)
 

rough ideas rest
old leaves on the dock

of a harmless sailing
port. They sift into mulch

where, sometimes, if
fortunate, staggering after dark

in the champagne dusk, your
trailing fingers leave a seed

where mizzen mast grows:
sister of basil, or sage, but

hard to find the dish to
flavor. if sprinkled, the threads

are strong, intoxicating. Too
confused a taste for some. Don’t

touch the rough wood dock then;
even glances tend to wilt the leaves,

somehow. You wouldn’t think it would
— and conversation shivers the curved

tendrils of growth to pieces; you might
be left with ragged fibers, if you’re young.

It takes another night like the time your
lover stroked you to tumescence on the

kitchen table and you had to leave for
Sunday School luncheon. Or a morning

time of gasp, looking through timbers of a
dead dock for lost keys, in a rush, when you have

nearly forgotten the mizzen. Then the bowsprit.
Almost unnoticeable; if your eyes are empty

the spar will never keen the shrill soft sound
holding tight in a moment when

you may least afford it. But it must be noticed.
And the silent keys may not want finding, so

why not? I won’t tell any signs. Omens maybe.
wind might be kissing you. The air could be

from Guadeloupe, so sweet it is close to
rotten. Do elderly Spanish senóras brew it,

feeding the pot with holy water and something
ineffable? Or does a small girl wearing a red

shift with blue hat, discover its taste on her finger,
and wonder where it fell from? sometimes

there is not the air. There is nothing; a spoken caress.
For a long time, you are Rachel gleaning a long

hill clean with broken fingertips. The mind
is fleeting, as old love’s memoried lips. No one has

a better hand than no one here and dust settles through
closed rooms, days on days. No one sails any

more. It is too hot. The sun beats, a sullen
heart and you have forgotten the weight of being

pregnant. All this will not hold you back. You
will leave the high heels like two dead pipers

rigor mortis in the sand, spikes upward, because
the sea is washing and stroking a hull, your

boat, slim and beautiful, waiting. The virgin wood has
rarely any hold on land: its roots were flowers, or had I

forgot to sing you that? Over the curve of sail and
keel, drifted blossoms paint leftover sunset, gold, blush

and azure: a wisk of champagne. The only stipulation is
leave then. Catch the childish wind off of El Nino

and may the gods bless your yellow heels left behind.

 


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