Twelve Mile View


Widow-to-be scans the nearby fraction of the ocean
from a widow’s walk, processing the almost-nothing
she’s seeing from vantage of her optimistic tendency.

Buoy in the distance ducks choppy swells,
it pops back up, again submerges. Those who go down
into cold water first make their living on it. They’ve triangulated
their craft along the curves of crests and troughs, jostled through.

Boat-building evolved over thousands of years
of trial by drowning. Still evolving, engineering improvements
that brought the widow-to-be’s man home from commerce,
reliably, except this time, probably not home.

The buoy’s on a lengthy chain, because a diver
dragged the other end down, secured it to the seabed.
It demarcates the limit of the harbor, where it gives over
to the wide-open, to the uncontrollable two-thirds of the earth.


TODD MERCER won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Prize for Poetry, the National Writers Series Poetry Prize and the Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Award. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in 100 Word Story, Defenestration, Dime Show Review, Literary Orphans, Selections—Plum Tree Tavern, The Lake and The Magnolia Review. He’s writing from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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