Navigating Dark

by Jonathan Louis Duckworth

Dense fog over the Norman coast.
Low sound of a ship’s horn,
like a husky man who groans
to keep himself from nodding off.

Watching from my hotel balcony
I can see a red streak ribboning
through the Channel’s pre-dawn gray,
a lantern swaying from a ship’s prow.
Without ever seeing him, I know
there’s a man shivering on the deck,
also unable, or maybe not allowed
to fall sleep. He sips from a flask filled
with something cheap, some kind
of poison with a German name,
consonants hard as a fist to the gut.
This man could be from anywhere
so long as it’s far away. Who
has he left alone on land? Who
waits for his ship to return?

Now I’m smothered under
my thick duvet. Meanwhile
the man on the ship shoves his
hands into his pants for warmth.
I worry for him, for no other reason
than he deserves to be worried over.
Another horn blast & the ship’s gone.

On the day the sea gives up
her unnumbered dead, we the living
should greet them at the shores
with fresh clothes & blankets.


Jonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University and a reader for the Gulf Stream Magazine. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appears in or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Fourteen Hills, PANK Magazine, Thrice Fiction, Cha, Superstition Review, and elsewhere.

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