[39] The Sea Still Holds Me, Ken Massicotte

The sky is rain and dark.
I trust the walls to keep me safe,
the bricks I had replaced.
My mother died last week,
her body burned and ashes buried.

My parents could never help me.
One brother broke on a train
and healed in hospital for weeks,
but no one spoke—only prayer
like a virus…electric in the air.

I slept all winter under thick, black blankets
refusing fire in my basement room like a cell.
I rode out nightmares on a raft,
my dreams jagged and swollen,
the sea holding me in perilous swell.

I had nothing to give
but bartered in a voice from a vision:
I would master fire and sharpen swords,
I would guide the wind and skim the sea,
I would see my land ripple with wheat.
And so I forged a sharp wit,
hung in harbors and listened well,
traded meat for seed and sang for rain.

My mother’s grave is cold.
I am sad we were never close.
(One brother confessed
he knew she never loved him
but in her final confusion
kissed him with warmth.)

Still in sleep I am often lost
in canyons, on city roads;
hills of toxic slag
and my group who left me,
like my father’s ladder I cannot reach.
Rarely do I find my stride
or leave the earth to fly.

But my raft survived
and the sea still holds me,
guides me—more gently now—
toward a vast, black
terminal shore.

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