Michael Goodfellow

Ship’s Glossary

Slip hooks, lashings, boatfall, sheer off
—a sign for what to do in case of wreck,

the things it meant roped down, tarped off below.
No words for a kind of splash,

the engine room where light doesn’t reach,
the sound tires made when they pull off the ramp

or for a wind taut cord, tight enough for a gull to grip.
That the dinghy never had to be lowered,

that no one had fallen off.
How easily metal wire became a kind of land,

how the bow passed through the water like water.
How the ship lurched the length of its darkened coil.

Say that it happened. The drowning would have been vernacular
loss, passing, accident–

nouns for what never happened clung to the chance
like mussels to a sunk hull.

The real mussels never let go.
Say that water passed above them like foil.

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Michael Goodfellow’s first collection, Naturalism, An Annotated Bibliography, is forthcoming from Gaspereau Press next spring, and his poems have previously appeared in The Dalhousie Review, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. He lives in Nova Scotia.