When I tell you my childhood was wasted
at sea, you should bear in mind
I may be an unreliable narrator.
When I say I spent a year
in military school, disguised as a boy,
be skeptical—though in fact I did.
Each morning we polished our boots
to an oily sheen and ran through the spruce
woods with empty guns. When I tell you
I love white wine, it’s the plain truth.
As is the fact that my mother
was a painter and my father a cellist--
or a physicist. I get the two confused.
I get confused about the relative
weight of my loneliness: it seems so heavy,
but where is it? Did you know I survived
shipwreck? That I was marooned
and lived a long time on the island? Surely
that explains this hook-shaped scar,
my love of salt. I ask for no help
with these burdens. The earthquake rocked,
rocked the building’s foundation
and the bedposts swayed
like masts. We set off from port. All my lies
are like that: they travel
so far over the horizon, then finally
come back: my sea-weary, long lost kin.
- Karin Gottshall (from Memorious: A Journal of New Verse and Fiction)