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You Come for Fear

You come for fear of the other men,

the ones who wait at the port

for the ship to dock.

You know they want

a sea captain. You know

that my waist is still supple,

my legs still strong.

You know how much money

I send home but you know

how much the men at the port

waiting there leaning on the ropes

think a captain has when she returns.

I’ll come home,

walk down the unsteady board

to you, the wind on your face,

your hair freshly washed.

Smelling not of salt and yeast,

the thick smells of the ship

and its women.

Smelling like earth,

peppery and warm,

you’ll wear your good jacket.

We’ll walk together

home to the stew you’ve made,

to the house carefully arranged,

the fiddle in the corner. I’ll wait for you to play;

I won’t ask. I’ll start to clean up.

You’ll take the fiddle to the back.

You’ll play, the fiddle so small

in your hands, face bent over it, eyes closed.

You’ll play the ancient song

that makes a woman’s legs grow land-bound

and unable to go to sea.

The rite that rarely works but could.

You’ll play, your large hands, one black nail,

one blood blister, the calluses and notches

in your finger tips, the song too long,

too hopeful and strange, too much

in it of what we know is wrong,

sinful even to ask for.

I don’t want to be at the prow of a ship.

I don’t want the women waiting

for their orders. I don’t want the gasping

deaths of the fish dumped out on the deck.

I want the pagan love song

my husband plays to keep me here.

from Having Been an AccompliceFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2011
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Laura Cronk Poems

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