WESTPAC, Underway

                    appeared in kentucky poetry review, winter 1991

photo: K-4313, Bob Sloan is second man from right
Lovely velvet dark:
Such small light
from God's glorious throw of stars.
The moon, a pale sliver of pearl,
casts its broken image
on saline phosphorescence
in our wake.
An albatross found us
at morning muster,
still circled as dusk
monochromed the sea.
Now he rides black sky,
until tomorrow,
all the tomorrows to landfall.
At noon dolphins raced the bow,
a fat slick frenzy of silly.
The sea rolls as gentle hills;
tonight we rest easy.
Six time zones east,
only your sleepy breath
and the cat's restless prowl
break the gentle quiet
of your tight, snug house.
I so miss your voice and touch,
ache with remembering
sweet familiar comforts,
would give a piece of my soul
if you could see
why I leave.

A failed attempt to explain to an ex-wife why I stayed in the Navy as long as I did, why I much preferred sea duty and year-long deployments to staff or shore duty.  I wrote this as part of a workshop at Tulane University, when I was briefly in their MFA program.  The same twit of an instructor mentioned elsewhere in these pages insisted,  "This is not a poem,  it's saccharine-sweet, overly sentimental verse,"  and refused to accept it as part of the course requirement of creating a  "writing portfolio."  Before the year was out the editor at kentucky poetry review disagreed, and published it.

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