I have taken every third word
I heard today, gathered them up and dumped them in a pile.
Some I jammed in a pill bottle with other acid reminders-
a random chemical family. Maybe they will work things out.
Some I hung in a tree like a wishbone.
Pull one end to see if you are lucky or not.
Some I laid out like plastic trash above the tide line,
in between the clumps of seaweed.
Some I scratched on the side of the doorless outhouse
we set up to face the ocean to watch for returning boats.
Some went for new, inventive labels on the grape wine
we made when it was too rough to fish.
The rest is personal packing
to keep my insides from falling out,
wrapping them around the thing that made no sense–
Duncan’s body, or what was left of it, washed up in a tide pool.
The top all gone, just the legs up to the backbone.
He still had his white socks on. No boots though.
A freak sea, a big wave over the false bar
and the channel inshore of it, quick sandy on the inside.
His boat probably swamped coming in over the bar
and he fell in, got dragged under, numbed by the cold
and had no time to kick his boots off.
His Dad walked the shore everyday until he found him.
Some in the tide pool and farther on
some other parts of him, the head and one shoulder,
all chewed up by crabs and sand fleas.
Once, Duncan and I were fishing off of Port Hardy.
The sea got big and I got so seasick I passed out.
It was all Duncan could do to handle the boat.
I woke up with one eye swollen shut
and vomit and blood and fish scales everywhere.
These words, blank-eyed and staring back at me as I write them,
make me sick like that.