Scrimshaw

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1.

Small boy sits on bridge,
dangles feet over edge,
river slaps his legs raw.

Wonders if he went in
would he get out,
whether it would even matter.

Hold on.

2.

Tall boy,
grows up watching old men build boats
that will never see the sea.

Watches them scrape stories from hulls
like barnacles that never took hold.

Sees them cart barrels of salt-water
in from the ocean to hurl against hulls.

3.

Tall boy watches one night
as every boat becomes a whale.

By morning, the whales break
under their own weight.

Old men keep carting in salt-water.
Old men break under the weight.

4.

Tall boy says to the morning:

I will have a son one day.
I will call him Endless.
He will be as broke and
whole as any other.

I will cut us a field in a field.
Will sing him a river.
Build a bridge of whalebones.
Show him how easy things can be.

If he hesitates on the bridge
I will show him my palms are maps to the ocean.

Will show him my jawbone,
polished as pearls.

Hold him close as a rib
and be the first to jump.

2 thoughts on “Scrimshaw”

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