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Bolting Mare Rock

Coos Bay, Oregon


Winter’s awash inside the gray, hard heart of the sea. 
Pounding war fists strike against reef and shore. 
Out of her depth, the boat leans, bruised, thigh battered, 
barely afloat. Oil from her tanks pools around tatter 
of nets, spoiling the deck with drenched cordage spilling, 
tossed by chaos into a frenzy. Captain with crew ride 
the bucking fury.

No dry skin. Feet slip under each wave’s lash. 
The captain’s son, as fine a seaman as any, stretches 
to secure a hatch as the specterous sea plans its rape, 
swells around him, making the small boat lurch. 
When brow proud it rises, one of the crew is missing.

Waters awash between this village and the heartless 
heart of the sea. Women shudder, drenched at the point. 
Watching, afraid of what there is most to fear. 
A vessel is galloping toward Bolting Mare Rock. 
There is no drowning without a deep, uneasy gasp 
inside the belly of waves as burning water is drunk 
and the body sinks into whirling exile snatched 
from the arms of those that love. The sea is a lover too. 
Will have its quarry; never releasing what it deeply kisses. 
Whispering as it possesses: No profit to a seaman’s life,
only worry.



O God, an infidel of the air, 
I fear not. I am Man, hair of your hair, 
wind spittled water whipped, flying 
as I heave with the seethe down under. 
Transfigured and unrepentant, I dare 
the miraculous waves to throw me up.

O God, though time cramp 
my toil and I am phantom cast between 
dreaming shores, my blood sings as it flies. 
When sea wise no longer, mingling undone 
and my heart sinks like a drowning star 
to rest in some forgotten harbor, my soul 
airy and shirtless, shall rise above water 
to sail once more.

- Scott Malby

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