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.
(This poem originally appeared in The Storm Petrel: Poems of Ireland (Grayson Books, 2014)
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 Review, Southern Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Copper Nickel, Emerson Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Kestrel, Hotel Amerika, Midwest Quarterly, Poetry Ireland Review and South Carolina Review. He is author of The Wolf Yearling, Idyll for a Vanishing River, Fugue for a Desert Mountain, Anthem for Pacific Avenue: California Poems, Southbound Express to Bayhead: New Jersey Poems, The Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland Poems, Bleak 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.