Ship in a Bottle
Psalm of the Sailor's Widow 

A ship is a vain thing for safety, 
and you can't dredge the sea. 
But in its infinite mercy and oblivion, 
the sea sings a song to God entirely not mine, 
and it sings this new song skillfully. 

I hear the dense roar and wish for conversion. 
Not to see him again, which would be uncanny, 
but to hear the initial call 
that created the sea, gathered it together 
in a heap, the deep storehouse of life 
beginning at my feet.  I want to hear 
the plankton answer and repeat themselves, 
echoing the call in some Adamic language 
akin to love, a whole hemisphere 
of bridegrooms taking their brides. 

I want to hear God speak his name, 
its distinct sound, speak it with the same breath 
that whispered in Mary's ear, the same breath 
that fashioned our hearts alike: a fistful of red, 
clenching and unclenching, mine still without rest-- 
small, the same size 

as the ship in the bottle, the little 
collapsible world of rigging 
he built with tweezers, 
one sliver at a time as I called him to dinner.  

Allyson Shaw

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