Home >> Volume 1, Issue 01


Rick Barnett

One hand for the ship and one for yourself.

-A seaman’s proverb.

 [For Smith Kirkpatrick]

She demanded it,
Then stood afoul all morning
As we two young men
Carried what she allowed
Out the door
Of the second house you lost
On Mill Pond Road.

And you, past sixty, alongside,
Steering even again
Your flotsam past corners and doorjambs,
You, windward again,
Amazed us with your calm eye
And steady gait:
One hand for yourself and
One --where?
Even the buckling porch
Seemed to pitch.

When it was done
And we listed
Unsteadily against the truck,
Slack with wonder,
It came to us like a mirage at sea
Glimpsed through Antarctic spray:

Chin jammed into the weather,
Hoisting a simple seaman’s chest.
Its draft on your shoulder
The eternal shape of departure.

On the back of the truck
Riding aloft its lashed hollow,
We wished to close our eyes
And press our bland ears
To its wooden mouth
And be instructed
How to walk a gale.