|FIRST AS LAST|
by Midori Gleason First as LastWe were two men left out on the sea,
two dark shadows in a snow-flecked night.
By day the golden waves would speak of dreams
of freezing on the sea so far from sight.
Strangers stealing through a liquid land
must dip the oar without making a sound.
Salt air eats flesh as brine will crust cold hands—
We’d row until we stood on solid ground.
With my hands as oars I would still be able to row—
Not a man, just the sea I’d coast being unseen.
I curved my hands around the oar, until they froze,
welcomed every wave, kissed every breeze…I have always been sorry that I showed him the hand
for he sighed, “what is the use…might as well go first as last.”Along the coast at night yet still alone
Until I was found dripping and dropped afresh,
the little finger snapping from the bone
finger and thumbnails still hung to the flesh.
Alive, though and ready to mark my own
I took the money they offered to build a tavern
Who could tell me that it couldn’t be done?
Yet I was drawn to the boats and the water,
I wondered what else I could not do or be
Till’ gathered thoughts swirled a current below
And buoyed me alongside back to sea;
the sea called to me and I rowed out for home.Whenever anything had to be done, I felt
it best to give orders…and do it myself. Laskow, Sarah. “The Man Who Sailed Across the Atlantic…Without the Benefit of Fingers.” Atlas Obscura, www.atlasobscura.com/articles/howard-blackburn-wasnt-the-first-to-sail-across-the-atlantic-solo-but-he-was-the-first-to-do-it-fingerless. Accessed 1 January, 2019. “The Liberian Greenbul”The liberian greenbul is one of the world’s rarest song birds—so rare, in fact, that experts are beginning to wonder if it ever existed in the first place.I used to live under trees covered in snow—unless, of course,
I can’t remember the feel of my face in the breeze—unless, of course,I never pulled my babe in a sled, rope over my shoulder,
replaying the morning meeting—what to think?— unless, of course,I was not me, I fell through the ground and was reaching out for roots.
They stood out of reach handing me poisonous weeds—unless, of course,I didn’t mind if all they had to offer was deceit—
I had no belief—Give it to me , please!—unless, of course,like me they had no belief in anything either—they smiled and winked,
neither do we! no meaning in joining hands—unless, of course,it was never my dance, always they and not we, they left me the bill to pay,
teeth twinkling, bow, smile, and leave—unless of course,They told me from the start I’d pay the price—How about his blue eyes?—
Although you deny it, Midori you know they stole him—unless, of course… Frost, Natasha. “Birds and Beasts that May Have Never Actually Existed.” Atlas Obscura, www.atlasobscura.com/articles/birds-beasts-never-existed-liberian-greenbul-panther.
Accessed 1 January, 2019. About the Author:Midori Gleason is an artist and writer living in Gloucester, Massachusetts. She has previously been published in UMass Boston’s The Watermark and the Dorchester publication, Write on the Dot.