Endlessly Rocking

(For Milo Kline, on his high school graduation tour Mid-Atlantic, on the way to Africa, 1942)

It wasn’t even a storm, just the boat
rocking. My duffle
had come unstrapped
from the bunk and it tried to
roll around
the deck like a dead
man (I had not seen a dead man
yet) or a drunk (I had seen
These, even tried to be
one that night when even I
had forgotten to write me.) It sloshed.
The boat sloshed. The ship!
My mind tried to
slosh all the way back to the
sturdy black soil, the green that is
waveless Iowa. I thought
about the poem in
the English book, the poem
before O, Captain! My Captain!
Miss Block had tried to
parse the poet’s titles, or
get us to. Out of the cradle
endlessly rocking meant rocking
forever out of the
cradle. Eternally out of
the cradle. Away from
the cradle. Rocking like
the duffle, helplessly
sloshing. Endlessly
rocking, endlessly,
endlessly. Our fearful
trip . . . the final outing,
the forever of it, before the first fear.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.