Those newly sent to the sea
drape themselves ill across the decks
the first days out like seals caught
in the calculus of the war that walruses
keep with hunger in the heavy Arctic.
But some new sailors who lack
the nausea gene stay far back above
the propellers as if they are angels
borne aloft by giant blades, shiver
in salt air till elsewhere
the puking passes.
Soon enough they are a city slung
through the stars in the liquid dark
and built above a heaving whose
wet wants them. They tend to their
tilty earth in a hot schedule set by
a strict hole in the horizon. Or
sometimes shift after shift, if
the air itself has upended.
Or, baked by their burnt
breath, they’ll undrown themselves
on a dock that looms to them
like a lifeline while they imagine
they are steady as layers of stone.
But for those who at the outset did
not drop hard into hell, land sickness
now lays them flat like flounders
nailed to boards for deboning while
they ride the stillness wildly, spun
down to the bottom of themselves.