I envy your talent for slipping
into the sleeve of sleep; one moment
your oceanic eyes are wide, the next,
silky with dreams. I lie next to you
on our liquid berth, an old salt shipwrecked,
clinging to the last spars of wakefulness,
mistrusting the stormy waves that threaten me‑‑
that may not be buoyant enough to lift me,
carry me, take me safely to the beachhead
of morning. So I grasp awareness
as you snore, cradled in ripples beside me,
as even the dog dreams on the floor,
wild golden eyes subdued in passionate rest.
In a vision I see myself walking beside you
on that far shore, a sea‑oat setting.
Gathering shells, I am telling a story
to you and all who will hear me: how I
survived the wreck, how I lived. With that
promise before me, I succumb at last,
still graceless, still stubborn‑‑a drowning
Ishmael as the Pequod sinks into black,
perilous waters. I cling to the casket
of your faith, knowing I must escape
to tell the tale.
- Karen Pape 2016
Karen Bingham Pape is a teacher and writer. Her poems have appeared in small press publications such as Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and Maverick Press and in on-line journals such as Big River Review, Red River Review, Words-Myth and Perigee as well as under the bluepepper. She has read her work at conferences such as Southwestern ACA/PCA Pop Culture, ASU Annual Writers Conferences in Honor of Elmer Kelton, and Fort Concho Literary Festival.