Weather-shy, they call them:
The ones found always
To the landward side of a fleet,
Someone hostage between themselves and the sea.
Edgy at the first whine in the rigging.

Sometimes, it’s that rogue wave,
That rock breaking suddenly by your bow,
Or that one time
When it seemed the boat would never right:
When maybe someone else didn’t make it.
That time the sea drove your stomach high
Into your throat, and threw fear
Like a glass float blown into the grass
Far above some storm-tide line in the mind.

Or, just a steady accretion;
Silting of small starts and heart-races,
Recollections of faces simply no longer seen,
Sedimentation of times you knew you didn’t know.
Those flashes when you could see the catastrophe
And its end: yourself bloated, like a marker buoy
Floating at the end of your net.

These waves break, break, and break on
Wearing away, regardless how slow, until that day
They finally grind you smaller than the sea.

:: John Skapsi, in Going for Coffee (1981)

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