The Ferry Captain

“Captain in the Rain at Cleggan Pier, Ireland.” By Jeffrey Alfier

 

The Ferry Captain

By Jeffrey Alfier

 

The Ferry Captain

He is the hull, diesel and waterline that mark him,
ligature of fists on the wheel. He is bow wave
and sting of spindrift, inlets sprawled with waterfowl,
tidewrack, a mind drawing tangent lines no one sees.
The wheelhouse is his tabernacle in the wilderness.
He’s a bulkhead’s argument with rust, a pennant’s
argument with gales. Spend enough of your life
at sea and you can tell windward from leeward
by the taste of wind alone. At a small remove,
just back of the helm, passengers serry against
north Atlantic cold, their voices clipped
by gusts keening through antenna wires.
Sheltered waters far astern, he is the rote cadence
of the deck crew’s footfalls. He won’t worry how late
he gets home, how long he’ll stand with his back
to the seawall, a phone ringing somewhere without
his answer, the sea a rhythm locked in his heart.

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(This poem originally appeared in The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland (Grayson Books, 2014)

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About the Author: Jeffrey Alfier is 2018 winner of the Angela Consolo Manckiewick Poetry Prize, from Lummox Press. In 2014 he won the Kithara Book Prize, judged by Dennis Maloney. Publication credits include Crab Orchard ReviewSouthern Poetry ReviewAtlanta Review, Copper NickelEmerson ReviewIron Horse Literary ReviewKestrelHotel AmerikaMidwest QuarterlyPoetry Ireland Review and South Carolina Review. He is author of The Wolf YearlingIdyll for a Vanishing RiverFugue for a Desert MountainAnthem for Pacific Avenue: California PoemsSouthbound Express to Bayhead: New Jersey PoemsThe Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland PoemsBleak Music – a photo and poetry collaboration with poet Larry D. Thomas and The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland. He is founder and co-editor at Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review. An Air Force veteran, he is a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

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