Pond snipe, bleached pine, rue weed, wart -- I walk by sedge and brown river rot to where the old lake boats went daily out. All the ships are gone, the gray wharf fallen in upon itself. Even the channel's grown over. Once we set sail here for Bob-Lo, the Brewery Isles, Cleveland. We would have gone as far as Niagara or headed out to open sea if the Captain said so, but the Captain drank. Blood-eyed in the morning, coffee shaking in his hand, he'd plead to be put ashore or drowned, but no one heard. Enormous in his long coat, Sinbad would take the helm and shout out orders swiped from pirate movies. Once we docked north of Vermillion to meet a single spur of the old Ohio Western and sat for days waiting for a train, waiting for someone to claim the cargo or give us anything to take back, like the silver Cadillac roadster it was rumored we had once freighted by itself. The others went foraging and left me with the Captain, locked up in the head and sober. Two days passed, I counted eighty tankers pulling through the flat lake waters on their way, I counted blackbirds gathering at dusk in the low trees, clustered like bees. I counted the hours from noon to noon and got nowhere. At last the Captain slept. I banked the fire, raised anchor, cast off, and jumping ship left her drifting out on the black bay. I walked seven miles to the Interstate and caught a meat truck heading west, and came to over beer, hashbrowns, and fried eggs in a cafe northwest of Omaha. I could write how the radio spoke of war, how the century was half its age, how dark clouds gathered in the passes up ahead, the dispossessed had clogged the roads, but none the less I alone made my way to the western waters, a foreign ship, another life, and disappeared from all Id known. In fact I come home every year, I walk the same streets where I grew up, but now with my boys. I settled down, just as you did, took a degree in library sciences, and got my present position with the county. I'm supposed to believe something ended. I'm supposed to be dried up. I'm supposed to represent a yearning, but I like it the way it is. Not once has the ocean wind changed and brought the taste of salt over the coastal hills and through the orchards to my back yard. Not once have I wakened cold and scared out of a dreamless sleep into a dreamless life and cried and cried out for what I left behind.