N 49° 43´ / W 53° 53´

Just off Joe Batt’s Arm. Nadia’s on the bridge, and you bring her the new calculations. Narrow nightwatch nigh the ship’s head while she tossed close to cliffs. She gestures for you to sit, tells you things—drugs they can grow, remedies, interactions, techniques. There are more men than women of working age on board. While she talks, she oversees the change of watch, the steady steps along the catwalks and up to the crow’s nests, the gray-clad backs bent over their tasks. The northern sea has begun to roll with more surge and menace, and a layer of chill under the mist clings to the mouth and nose, undercold. No icebergs to worry about anymore. She tells you that the continental currents are uncertain, as are the depths. Crispin has another bellyache. Some crew sweeps up a grainy spill on the deck below, and she stops to write a note. She looks up as if she has news and explains that the females of only two species undergo menopause. That is, the females of only two species outlive their capacity to reproduce: humans and killer whales. Experience in cessation: the females stop having young, then they lead the pod, carry knowledge of navigation, food supplies, routes.

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