Signing on Again
Down crew-only stairs—paint-chipped rail, hand-grimed bulkheads, watertight door’s caution-striped sill—to crew mess. Sit at sticky, vinyl tablecloth (deep bluewater) before ship’s registry (a white craft afloat). Sign in, sign on: name, address, emergency contact, bank details. Instructions slurried through Finance’s Greek & Safety’s Bulgarian accents. Nod understood, understood when sentences end in crest. Get lifejacket with green laminated card carabinered to chest, billet number on front. All expedition staff P-something. This time: Papa Nine Three.
ship aground, ebbing tide
dark, cold lapping sea
Submit certificates vouching competence: medical, crowd management, Zodiac operations... Paper to normalize and make of any possible disaster indemnified routine.
Copyright © 2017 by Elizabeth Bradfield. Used with permission of the author. “Signing on Again” originally appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review.
Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of Once Removed (Persea Books, 2015), Approaching Ice (Persea Books, 2010), and Interpretive Work (Arktoi Books, 2008).
Date Published: 2018-01-19
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/signing-again