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.

More by Jehanne Dubrow

Before the Deployment

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.