She Would Swim in the Aral Sea

how many times can she quit
her life during a blackout
and come to high
on the branch of a sycamore tree

how many times must she whisper
mirror mirror on the floor
were you ever in the hand
on / off the wall / off / on

the ceiling / tell me
a true story
how you ended up there
how I ended up here / looking

down where my feet dominate
not the eyes / rarely the mind
sometimes the knees / I ask
a stranger / you are

no longer a stranger
we’re all strangers
to our futures
reinventing the fairy tales

that have kept us
trapped between panes
of glass / untranslated water
lips of blood / dried-up seas

she can still taste
the metallic / irony
on her tongue from the old type
foundry matrix

she remembers hearing
the steamship whistle break
the news as the ferry left
the strange comfort

of its berth
recalls wanting it to be
the Uncatena or Nobska
or the one she knew best

the Islander

recollects knowing
her wish will not be fulfilled
dreams of another uncharted journey
to the Staten Island boat graveyard

where she might pay her respects
to leftover scraps
of the work horse
that shuttled her

between all those places
that might be stitched together
to construct a make believe
childhood home

along with the other tugboat
and barge remains
that keep so many secrets
sealed in the muck

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