Ordinary Deckhand

Wayne Lee

With zen mind, beginner’s mind,
let me pretend I’ve never sailed this sound
so I can see these breaching whales

with newfound eyes, adolescent eyes,
hear these bells and horns, these
glaucous gulls, with novice ears,

smell this giant kelp and ocean salt,
this diesel smoke with nostrils open to the fog,
let me forget I ever steered these straights,

rode these riptides, charted this course,
let me unlearn how to coil that rope,
scrub that hold, pump that bilge,

gut that sockeye salmon and halibut,
with wild mind, child’s mind,
let me un-identify these harbor lights

and no-name points, un-navigate
that bay and channel, bank and rock,
not drop anchor in these hidden coves,

with pure heart, perfect heart,
let me restart the engine of my imagination
and abandon all my new-formed memories

like cork floats washed ashore
on nameless reefs and untamed shoals
and wake my ordinary deckhand soul.


About the Author

Wayne Lee teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. His poems have appeared in New Millennium, The Ledge, Tupelo Press, California Quarterly, Lowestoft Chronicle, The Floating Bridge Anthology and other publications. His chapbooks Doggerel & Caterwauls: Poems Inspired by Cats and Dogs, and Twenty Poems from the Blue House were published by Whistle Lake Press.