A woman on the Queen of Oak Bay complains of men

boat in Juan de Fuca

The picture is from Clover Point in Victoria, the following poem is from a ferry crossing—Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay—while listening to Garden State soundtrack.


A woman on the Queen of Oak Bay

is twisting a tress of white hair around her right index finger.
With her left hand she holds a phone…and is complaining of men.
She imagines a dark reunion:
They will be riding the ferry to the mainland.
They will gather at the stern,
where she has arranged for beer and chips for Cliff,
Pinot Noir in a stemless glass for Lance,
and black tea with 5 lumps of white sugar for Jerome.
And while the men drink and gawk and wait the reason
for their summoning, she will pluck
each deplorable one of them off the deck,
as one would a stray hair on a sleeve,
and drop them into the Georgia Strait,
burying them at sea,
as it were.

Her friends will emerge and there will be drinks on the sun deck,
and the happy jangled notes of a harpsichord
    (how Cliff hated harpsichord)
and a sitar will skip over the grey-green rollers
and spindrift, white and frothy as freshly popped champagne
    (Jerome thought champagne sour).
There will be clinking of glasses and “sons-a-bitches!” cheers,
and of course there will be dancing
    (Lance was too pretentious to dance).
The captain on the bridge, a sensitive man, will turn the ferry south,
then west through the strait of Juan de Fuca, out to the high seas,
to sail in large graceful trans-boundary circles.
O there will be much carrying on,
there will laughter and there will be love,
regardless of the mist.

(She could have endured the mist, she was prepared for storms,
and to live without harpsichord, sitar and the occasional dance,
yes, even that. 
But not with arms that promised affection, yet drove away her worth.
Not with the tide of fear that forbade her to show a trace of tears.
Not isolation. Not years without friends,
to help keep her from cutting the silver string.)

After the party everyone on board will theoretically forget
what must be forgotten,
and the ferry will turn back to the mainland.
The men beneath the Pacific will have, by now, come out of their flesh
and entered the bodies of sea urchins.
Ashamed of their small imaginations,
they will have renounced their harm and hatred,
and swim with the notion that salvation
and resurfacing, will come with contrition,
or when the sea goes perfectly still.
(It is naturally difficult for sea urchins to communicate remorse.)

The white-haired woman will put down her phone,
watch the white waves flay Bowen Island,
watch the morning mist skate above the spindrift
and smile at the sea that has never been still.


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