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Best Friend

by Liam Rector


You sailed down
From Provincetown
And I was to meet you

In Key West. I’d never
Sailed. I dressed
In my best and flew

Down from Manhattan,
Where I had been feeling
Punishing failure

And reading Hart Crane.
I brought a robe
I intended to wear

When I jumped off
Our boat mid-sea. I never
Told you that,

Old friend, and I
Apologize now.
What if I had left you mid-ocean

To sail alone?
In our twenty-foot wooden
Thing with no motor

And a radio that didn’t
Work we barely made it
Through the initial storm.

In the Bahamas we
Were often stood
Free beers for being

As insane as we were,
Coming over those waters
With no motor, pure

Sailing like that, a bar
Of soap floating in the cauldron
Of the Bermuda Triangle,

Where motorized cigarette
Boats sped by at money-making
Speeds, running drugs to fill

American needs.
And on our way back
When we lost our rudder

You, former Eagle
Scout, first conscientious
Objector ever to leave

West Point, captain
Of the ski team, jumped
Over the stern

And fashioned out of oar
And thick rope the thing
That would see us to shore

Before we, becalmed,
Drifted off course
100 miles, 100 miles

Of boredom and sun. I snapped
A black and white photo
Of the sea to remind me

Of my boredom, its boredom.
We made it back
To America, hitting

Shore at Boca Raton,
Pulling in midst the boats
Of the very, very rich.

I lived to write this
And never jumped ship.
It was your kinship

Kept me going those years,
Times of ridiculous
Sailing, riotous beers.

Wives sailed by,
So many boats, and you soon
Left for Bangkok and its

Very distant coast.
Being young: being rich
Among inherited ruins.

 

Liam Rector’s books of poems are American Prodigal and The Sorrow of Architecture. A book he co-edited with Tree Swenson, On the Poetry of Frank Bidart: Fastening the Voice to the Page, is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press. Rector directs the graduate Writing Seminars at Bennington College. (4/2005)


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