Sometimes I let down the windburned sails that are my hands
and crawl below decks,
let the waters rock me in that ghost-filled belly.
Down there are mermaids,
imaginaries innumerable: a man without a mean bone in his body,
a barrel of rum, maybe.
Down there is a girl child with the tiniest pearls of fingernails.
This way, a sailor is never alone.
I need the winds that move me.
A sailor woman does not run
to any infant’s cry.
Winds snap like rope breaking,
and raindrops fall like days on nights
on days at sea. Take warning;
the sun rises red: blood from my own depths,
like nervous laughter,
red like so much wine.
See, now and again I like to forget the storm,
pretend I wasn’t born with sea legs.
Pretend it’s just some game: float and toss
until I cry Harbour, harbour!
I am only a sailor with a belly of ghosts
I am only a sailor without an anchor.
Kelly Heard is a gardener and writer from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and one-year-old daughter. Currently at work on her first novel, she has previously published work in The Tusk and can be found on Twitter at @heardkj1.