The Flying Dutchman heaves up out of the ocean deep

just like a heavy heart

(or is it the other way around?)

I can feel mine beat.

Barnacles glisten and

D

R

I

P

in great, swollen clusters on the hull.

Sea-scabs,

they cling fast as memory to the old wood.

Fast even when memory becomes slow.

Water runs in honeycombs

through the spaces between thoughts.

It wants to slide off them, and spill

back into the dark arms of the ocean.

It wants not to touch

this impossible ship

as much as I want to see it.

The barnacles, for their part,

are sad to see the water leave.

They withdraw their marble hands

and shut their hatches

and prepare for another dry-spell.

Another bout of flying.

They don't care much for magic.

Only for wet and not wet.

I can't say the same.

My eyes are locked

on dripping wood.

I can see the creak of timbers

and hear the lack of gulls.

I can feel the figurehead

as if there was no space between us.

I half close my eyes

and I swear my cheek brushes cold wood.

I pull back

—on instinct—

and I catch just a glimpse of her face:

an albatross, hair algae-stained, stares back.

Maybe that sounds unlikely,

but I'm already watching the Flying Dutchman.

Little impossibilities pale in comparison

to the ship that hangs

ten feet over the waves

(drying in the wind.)

From my vantage, I can see the whole vessel:

every mast and rigging and spar.

There is a cool breeze over the harbor tonight,

and it sweeps the sails

into motion.

They stir and shift,

flapping every which way

without a crew to guide them.

The ship knows

(with the sureness of a muscle clenching)

where to go.

It pulls down

into the water's surface

to breach like whales do

(if whales lived in the sky)

and, as far away as I am,

I hear the wet snap.

A great, white sheaf has broken off the front

and collapsed back into the sea.

A great mess of salt and scar has peeled away

to expose the old planks underneath.

If the Dutchman were a heart,

and not a flying ship,

this would be impossible.

Medical men would gather around,

tsking and tutting like plovers squabbling,

And they would exult in the breakthrough.

But the Dutchman is a ship.

A strange miracle.

A fleeting ghost.

Its chest unburdened,

it heaves back up into the air

C

L

I

M

B

I

N

G

Until it slips between clouds

And loses itself without a trace.

With the ship gone

I have nothing else to do but stand

On these cliffs

And listen to my pulse pound.