A Dream about Arrival

I came here on a boat. It took months. It was a wooden ship with enormous square sails—maybe a schooner; I don’t know. There were dozens of other men on the crew, but once we passed out of sight of the Faroe Islands, there was a rule: no talking. No one told me this rule; I learned it from the silence of the other men. I was evidently the lowest ranking member of the crew, and I spent my time emptying the chamber pots into the sea and hauling up lengths of heavy rope out of the water, over the sides of the ship, and the rope blistered and tore my hands. Weeks went by, but it became hard to tell, the further north we traveled, when one day ended and the next began. I never learned what was at the ends of the rope lines. Whenever they passed me, the other men punched me hard in the stomach and chest. For a day the sails rippled and fell in on themselves again and again, while the same wind howled finely in the rigging lines. We learned that these were our voices, freed from our bodies. It was beautiful, the mainsail like a skein between worlds. I took the hand of the man next to me. There was so much we had in common. The touch wasn’t sexual, or it was as much as it was other things. We slept below the water line, all of us in an endless room, in rows of bunks, while the tailfins of sharks brushed the walls by our beds.

Raised in Connecticut and Syracuse, NY, Michael Powers lived for several years, as an undergraduate and graduate student (MFA in Fiction), in Houston, TX. Currently, he lives in Brooklyn, NY. Fiction and book reviews by Michael Powers have appeared or are forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Gulf Coast.