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Survival Balance

Waves like night whales raise the stern,
wind shreds the sail-edge, the boat crests.
We lean to port and rush down a swell.
My legs are splayed, knees bent, riding
the deck. I grip the tiller, feel only the fall
and rise, my skin popping with light,
my spirit pumped to its most animal.

We dodge squalls, run straight into a gale.
Only the greater shearwater remains in flight
disappearing behind 15 foot waves, darting,
pivoting on wing tip as though laughing at tumult.

2 weeks at sea – the adrenaline I eat
begins to consume me. My body seeks
ways to endure what I enjoy, concentrates
on sitting below without nausea, walking
the cabin sole and not falling, tasting food,
a normal bowel movement, sleep.
I brace myself, open my journal, and write
of lemon juice curling into a glass of water.

The storm subsides. We air out the cabins,
dry our bedding, wash clothes, repair
a broken shackle. I lie on the deck
watching cloud creatures open their jaws,
attacking in slow movements.
The sun sets, the barometer falls.

Michael F. Hughes


Hampshire County Arts Council, P.O. Box 624, Romney, WV 26757    webmaster e-mail address

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