A note from the writer: This one came out of a workshop with Lisa Jarnot, who astutely noted that it has the same rhyme and meter as Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." A happy accident.
BODY OF WATER: Port Jefferson Harbor
A rainbow of mats on weathered gray slats
at the end of a jutting pier.
Salt air incense, lapping-water chimes,
the harbor our studio mirror.
Like sandpipers we stand, one-leg tucked,
eyes fixed on bobbing white hulls.
Bellies now bend toward a ceiling of cloud,
odd creatures to high wheeling gulls.
An Azure Blue flutters into view,
drawn by our Ujjayi breath.
Then Monkey mind leaps to the wharf of my youth
three thousand miles west.
I see papa, forearms thick,
mending a cork-lined net.
High-booted uncles winch fish by the ton
and scrub down the slippery deck.
They smoke Lucky Strike, tend bar at night,
drink Canadian Club on ice.
For exercise they specialize
in pinochle, bocce, and dice.
I hear them cry, “Vincenzo, che fai?”*
in steerage voices strong.
What can I say except “Namaste”
and bow to the ferry’s “Ommm….”
*What are you doing?
Vincent DiGirolamo teaches American history at Baruch College. His works include the documentary Monterey’s Boat People, the novel Whispers Under the Wharf, and Crying the News: A History of America’s Newsboys, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. His poems have appeared in The Haven: New Poetry and the Monterey Herald. He lives in East Setauket, New York.