Wenatchee Ferry

Somewhere there is a woman
on this ship
++++++++++++folded up
inside the glove compartment
of her thoughts
++++++++++++++++++beside a spare key
a stack of one-liners on napkins, an open
bag of only pistachio shells
++++++++++++until the vessel groans
—no longer tied to shore—
++++++++++++++++++she will then ascend
for the middle act, the freakish hell
that is intermission
++++++++++++++++++on the main deck
above the sound of two out
of sync car alarms
++++++++++++and a premature baby
wailing while her parents search frantic
for the pacifier again
++++++has slipped out of sight, the world’s smallest
navy anchor lost and raking clean against
any possibility
++++++++++++that this woman might find
the peace of mind—one would assume
would come complimentary
++++++++++++++++++++++++while crossing any body
of water with her own—
++++++because with each lap around these careless
people dropping popcorn or sleeping
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++with a half-leg
dangling in her desire path, never mind
their vagabond piratical children who drag
++++++++++++++++++++++++designer coats with clip-on mittens
flipping up and down like wanton lures
before the eyes of spasmodic dogs looking for
++++++++++++any excuse to transform into the resident
sea-beast whose tail might cause her to capsize,
she grows only more offended by
++++++++++++++++++the inner sound and peril
common to any public vessel until without
warning or forethought of her
she pushes the door to the exterior observation
deck, to walk straight out
++++++into the chill of mid-September          towards us

and because I—same as any other passenger—
do not see her
++++++++++++++++++on this ship, she catches
sight of me with an arched back, like one of Neptune’s
wooden angels, upturned
++++++++++++++++++++++++about to kiss my beau, I
do not see her roll her eyes and pivot
upon one heel into the wind
++++++++++++++++++her jacket filling, swollen
as one black sail—or the slanted dash
of a dress hanging
++++++++++++++++++out on the line, cast
against the white bulbous sky—
anywhere she will go
++++++++++++to be rid of us, such
that I never see her descend
below deck to return, whole, to her compartment
++++++of thought
++++++++++++++++++lest I must, or must I, become her again.

Lauren Schlesinger lives and writes in Chicago. She earned a BA with Honors in poetry from Northwestern University and then an MSED degree from Northwestern University. After teaching for a few years, she went on academic-leave to pursue an MFA in poetry-writing from the University of Washington in Seattle. In the past, Lauren won the American Academy of Poets Jean Aloe Meyer Prize, was a recipient of the Northwestern University Alumnae Graduate Fellowship, and was a finalist in 2009 for the Ruth Lilly Fellowship for the Poetry Foundation. At the present, she teaches creative-writing and English literature classes outside of Chicago and serves as a Visiting Artist in Residence at Northwestern University.

Cover image by Esther Ann