He kisses me before he goes. While I, still dozing, half-asleep, laugh and rub my face against the sueded surface of the sheets, thinking it’s him I touch, his skin beneath my hands, my body curving in to meet his body there. I never hear him leave. But I believe he shuts the bedroom door, as though unsure if he should change his mind, pull off his boots, crawl beneath the blankets left behind, his hand a heat against my breast, our heart rates slowing into rest. Perhaps all good-byes should whisper like a piece of silk— and then the quick surprise of waking, alone except for the citrus ghost of his cologne.
Even on weekends the cruiser
would shudder, flicker spaces
with a redorange blink,
then a gasket crack or a valve stick shut
as if by weather or malicious hands,
the engine room home
of all catastrophe.
I would stretch and reach
across the bed to find furrowed sheets
where my husband had slept until 3 a.m.,
when he answered the captain calling,
whose perpetual fury machine
was the only system that never broke,
and my husband would yessir to him
who was steamingmad on the ship,
before slipping into the chill of coveralls,
the blueblack uniform of service,
which in a certain light
had the confining fit of love.