When he left he gave me the tattered wing
of a Ulysses in a lacewood box
he'd milled and pieced and glued.
When he left he shook the papery skin
of a snake lying in the heap of sawdust
by our king-sized bed.
When he left he smashed the night
before against the ground.
The glass in my feet smelt of rum.
When he left he told me what to do.
If I am caught in water
you have to reinvent the art of kedging:
let me go to the end of my rope
let me drop anchor
then pull yourself to where my back
darkens with exhaustion
and when your fingers bleed into the thing
that tightens between us
pull harder till the rope coils at your feet.
Let ants clean the soft body inside the shell.
No matter how long dead this Ulysses,
the pale lid opens and unlooses
a gently lifting, undefeated blue.
The Sewanee Review