Economies of Scale

You’ll get used to it, Val. Count containers 
to find your way back, because nouns can be 

mass or count, and some can be either—
sin, a sin, crime, a crime, death, a death. 

Windward, leeward, athwart, abaft—nouns 
occur in all environments, above or below 

the waterline or Plimsoll mark, the depth 
to which a ship can be safely loaded in a given 

season or locale. Count the sons up to three—
turns out their names are Stu, Howie, and Jason—

count 67 souls on board: original crew, youth,
merchant marines, engineers, a few tunnel guys 

from the Port Authority, fishers, builders, 
craftspeople, pilgrims: Roy’s their man who 

had keys to warehouses—bullets, millet, rice,
protein powder, beef jerky, canola oil, nails. 

Once you could call it a bareboat charter, 
Post-Panamax with hydraulic rams and gantry 

cranes, a quarter mile bow to stern, powered 
by bunker fuel: what part of speech is somehow

This ship’s been through Suez, Guangzhou, 
Singapore, Durban, Le Havre, Shanghai, flying 

its flag of convenience for rent. In the heyday 
of intermodal freight up to 10,000 containers 

a year slid overboard in storms: a hundred gross 
Tri-Metal Ancient Healing Power Bangles, 

3000 Pac-Man ponchos on the sea floor. 
The engine thrums through every pore, judders 

the soles of your feet to the roots of your hair.
Step out for some air—containerization 

divides the risk and limits the loss—auto-
motive to tilapia to zucchini, bay to bay, 

tier to tier, starboard to port, let’s say 
I love you a bushel and a peck: proportionate 

savings in shipping cost are gained by 
an increased level of production. Go on—

the gangway has 88 steps, like a piano, 
and they drove school buses into the hold 

in the dark, fitted them with bunks. Firms 
cannot realize economies of scale in perpetuity.

You do what you have to do. Make rooms 
in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.

Copyright © 2022 by B. K. Fischer. From Ceive (BOA Editions, 2021). Used with permission of the author.