Off the starboard bow at 4 A.M.: Barred cloud and scaled-gold backlight,
A musical staff—all but blank to score the near silence: Waves slop, ice clunks, an otter takes a breath.
Just under the ripple- and chop-flustered surface, A lion's-mane jellyfish hangs in the slack tide, its stingers trailing like lures.
Nothing out there to note—thank God— The crank-up and fly-wheel jerked pulse of my own noisy mind.
From wilderness to wilderness, tide to tide— What is it I long for? What is it I have?
Sunlight the color of raw salmon flesh, A knife edge of ridge line, ice honed.
Jennifer Atkinson is the author of two books of poems, The Dogwood Tree and The Drowned City. She teaches creative writing at George Mason University.