Winnona Elson Pasquini

On Waking to Find a Land-Fast Sea

I

 

The day before, we watched ice form—dendritic arms
tried to hold, then failed. Fragile fragments, their stretch

 

breaking on surface waves. Ice

 

needles through gray waves

 

stitching frozen length against length. Our teeth alien

in our mouths, the caustic sun burning eyes, the air full

 

of dry sound, and the great ship churning. And he was pointing—
explaining ice and frazils building on the edge

 

of pale, flat frames, rimming each white
lily of the grey sea. Waves and wind channeled

 

brine between the dead

blooms. Then, the seals, the terns rattling the sky with beaks

 

and wings and a great wall

white-calving into the sea.

 

II

 

Tropic of Cancer, March, and the two
of us in a flats boat. Night softly etching the bay—I dipped

 

my hand to savor the velvet wet and finger the plankton—

bioluminescent, glowing

 

the water pale green.

Sharks, he said and pulled my hand away.

 

III

 

I could not see—I could

 

not see. I prayed to the Lady of Situations

and drowned Ophelia rising—

 

IV

 

He talked conduction, convection, and cold

water drownings—the colder

 

the better for survival—and don’t

wear cotton. I went to the cabin for wool,

 

thinking there would be silence—

 

V

 

In the recess of the ship, I panted in the cold, wet air.

 

 

 

 

 

Winnona Elson Pasquini is a poet and writer living in Tampa, Florida. She was named a finalist in the New Rivers Press 2013 MVP book competition and a finalist in Yellowjacket Press’s 2013 Peter Meinke Prize for Poetry Chapbook Contest. Her recent publications include work in Flare, Cider Press Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Rock & Sling. She completed her MFA in creative writing and studied film at the University of South Florida and is currently working on a poetry collection inspired by film.

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