It’s 1921 and Kaiser Bill’s coastal raider UB88, her harmless iron breached by Bull Halsey’s well-trained gun crews on the Wickes, slides away bow-first, crash-diving into her infinite future. Six miles off Long Beach, she sits upright on the bottom, her dark compartments filling with sand. All around her, like little stars burning in cold currents of space, hunting lamps of moon-eyed fish light her way.
Every hour, ships put to sea. Every hour, ships arrive somewhere. Day in and day out, green waves break on every shore. Every coastal wind bends its saltgrass. Gannets hover, pitch up, veer sharply away. From our point of view, all these things are indisputable.
You get it, don’t you?
Even before she leaves the slips, UB88 is forever fixed as we are in the present. She cannot be erased. In the depths, cold currents wash the wreck. Coral finds anchorage there and builds, shell on shell, dumbly upward. Scorpion fish and rock cod haunt the deck. Like we will, she herself will resolve in time to rude materials, but though her mass disperse, each forgotten effect her presence has achieved even upon the sediments under her keel will be real.
Nothing is lost.
Every night the same stars mark the mysterious currents of the universe. The same sea roars in the dark heart of any empty conch. Whether it means anything or not, every hour another sail fills with its irresistible wind.
In the temple pond,
to touch a summer moon.
Jeff Streeby grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, where he attended Morningside College. He holds an MFA in Poetry from Gerald Stern’s program at New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire. He is a horseman, cowboy poet and performer whose work has appeared in Verdad, Southwest American Literature, Los Angeles Review, and others.