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The Greek fisherman rises early.
Hands like five-legged spiders repair
thick nets each day’s catch depends on.
He polishes St. Peter’s icon,
sets off for deep water. Ritual
frames each day with purpose.


Living off a fickle sea, trafficking
in Homer’s “terrible Aegean,” placid
turquoise mirror, or cauldron of unexpected
squalls, rocks cutting surface like bones
breaking flesh, jaws ripping into anything
wave-tongues force toward them.


Horizon is the house he breathes in.
Inversion of the sky and sea startles:
a darkened ceiling as the floor pales,
grays until a line is crossed;
horizon that deceives, tosses perspective
until the boat itself tips, shreds
into a mass of floating bones.


The sea gulps hard, spits out
the fisherman, drowning him in thirst
that won’t be quenched, salt not
tears of sympathy nor liquor
of a vindictive god. Panic
reveals scenes as if he floats
above, detached. Clinging to a plank,
strange thoughts of Jonah, fish
who owe him nothing.


The mocking saline reservoir
of what the body lost and needs
gives buoyancy to spirit
as flesh sinks deeper.
To keep eyes awake, aware,
while sense slumbers
a horizon that feels familiar
only to find it rising like a scythe:
dark triangles, silence …


A powerful thrust of velvet flesh
as eyes open on a horizon
of soapstone shoals and driftwood limbs.
Triangles imagined sharp, threatening,
curve in the light, dorsal flags
of porpoise, flotilla of aquatic messengers.
Legend proves true: porpoise lifeguards
in a frantic, flowing world
who guide you back to shore, firmer
once so close to being lost.

Photo by Anastasia Dimitriadi on Unsplash

Marc Malandra

Marc Malandra serves as a Professor of English at Biola University where he has taught various courses in American literature and writing. His short essay, “‘Moss Gathering’ and Roethke’s Romantic Child of Nature” appears in A Field Guide to Theodore Roethke (Ohio University Press 2021). His poetry has been published in such journals as Puerto del Sol, Poetry Northwest, Orange Coast Review, and Zocalo among approximately forty other venues.