Phebe Davidson

In the Dream

Death is a sailor. He looks like all the rest. He stands his watch
on deck, he sleeps in a hammock, he worries about his gums
going bad and the loss of teeth. The officers tell him limes will
help, but he doesn’t believe them. Weevily meal and sour grog.
No protein for months but jerky. There are burials at sea. He
likes the feel of the slippery deck as it cants beneath his feet. He
has learned the brine as it salts his skin, the deep hold’s stench
that folds him in where he sleeps below with the crew. He feels
the hawser’s flex and rub when they drag an anchor in heavy
seas. He can hear the horizon empty itself. The wallow of
troubled vessels lifts him up. He is the monster, formless, white,
who rolls in the trough of leviathan waves, who breeches in
terrible air. Water pours from his body like light. He has
swallowed Jonah a thousand times and will not spit him out.