Three Poems from Shipbreaking

By Robin Beth Schaer
Flickr/Tim Sheerman-Chase

Flickr/Tim Sheerman-Chase



Leave your country and all its weather
behind; forget the sun, the tent of sky,

the wind in vast cotillions. Choose me
instead, in this dim place under a shelter

of speculation and tin. Here we speak
the argot of twins and I know there are

creatures only you see and answers
I am not ashamed of. Cast beyond

the planets, even Pluto has a moon.
They spin with locked tides, always

faced together, married to darkness;
so stay, my consort, my lovely undoing.




Centuries coupled, as if halves of one, we meant
a constancy of shale, adamantine, and clutched

each other, though our mantle flowed apart.
Our hold splintered and slipped, I tremored

to release you, heaving rivers and boulders,
cracking homes like melons. As Caledonia

and Appalachia were a single range before
a mercy of ocean poured between, so you

and I, riven, will always bear the bands
of silt and shell where once we fit together.




Admit our sun is common, a Milky Way twin
to a hundred million more. Even its end

ordinary, no stellar explosion, it will snap
hydrogen to helium then cool to a dense core.

You squint skyward, still wanting the corona
of a bright god, the unconquered sun that chose us

to spin around. But there is no need for tributes
of maize and falcon wings while we burn

the oil of light left eons ago. You may ratify
the droughts and downpours, assign blame

for melting ice and rising seas, but I can count
more kinds of hammers than turtles;

we need instinct, not law. The dogs of Pompeii
howled for days, even snakes slithered

from Helice. In the Gallatin Range, the bears
left the forest. At night, a slice of mountain shook

down, sleepers drowned in their beds, soaked
in waves off the lake. When the ground stilled,

the bears returned covered with mud. Hush.
Listen to our internal combustion rumble.

There is more elegance in turning photon
to electron to motion. Let us trade the old sun

for the new one, sustain ourselves, wet and green,
within this delicate spindle of axis and orbit.



Credit: Robin Beth Schaer, “Aphelion,” “Earthquake,” and “Endangerment Finding,” from Shipbreaking, published by Anhinga Press. Copyright © 2015 by Robin Beth Schaer. Reprinted with the permission of the author.


Robin SchaerRobin Beth Schaer is the author of the recent collection Shipbreaking, from which these poems are reprinted. She was educated at Colgate University and Columbia University and has received fellowships from Yaddo, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Saltonstall Foundation, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She teaches writing in New York City, and worked as a deckhand aboard the Tall Ship Bounty, a 180-foot full-rigged ship lost in Hurricane Sandy. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, the fiction writer Anthony Tognazzini, and their son, Faro.

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