The Yankee Lunches with the Pirate
by Donna Decker


Two tiny tendril Blackbeard braids frame a heart-lined face,
his smile immediately Southern, mirror-practiced,
    his eyes coast deeper than hazel, seem black when I remember them.
A century late, he is dressed in black tri-cornered skull and cross-boned airs
    illuminating the sun-frizzled ribboned hair,
the gold circle ear-ring that costs more than all my jewelry.
He performs this role naturally, is even costumed for the part.
    The old white ghost of a sailor's hat -- his mark;
a steady current of sea tales - his gentleman rogue's seamless monologue.

I have heard how he swims wintry storms to rescue
    wayward boats, mud-sucked anchors;
the more violent the skies and waves, the more eagerly lie courts them.
His machined fins as powerful as a Great White's,
he has balanced between high and low water for half a day
    wrestling barracuda for the kill.

He brushes off my chair with his handkerchief,
lifts up to get me a glass of water with lime.
He's on the deck of a time and place when with a lady,
    manners mattered, and his are white-gloved.
The deliberate way he cuts and eats his fried grouper
is as precise as the way he chooses his moods.
He is well-contained in his compact space of ship-life.
    Muscles slice his shirt.

I would like to say I didn't shiver and lean in for the storm
when he touched my arm to underline the story.
   I would like to say I didn't imagine how that boat-living ocean sway
   might have shaped his legs for loving,

   how I might have welcomed the waves they gave rise to,
how the white sails might have swelled and lifted through the rigging
and the gulls cried out their hunger
as we spent the night together walking the plank and rising.

copyright © 1999 Donna Decker

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