Poems from Michael McAnaney

Ahab’s Leg

I am a bone
white sea cold memory of walking
burned unbowed in baptismal water
I raced from stern booted ministers
shoeless into the Atlantic
my overboard Bible memorized
by blood not heart

Never humble like floating Noah
or born again like regurgitated Jonah
in coraled dreams I rescued Adam
from paradise my foot in
Eve’s guilty ribs

I steadied pagan pharaohs
charioting toward the red hungry
sea under Ahab my marrow boiled
over as David submerged
in Bathsheba’s briny hair

Ahab wanted sermons to save him
dragging his duffel of doubt up
that gang plank its canvas question
punishing me like a wave
I rejoiced to be swallowed whole and
worship in a barnacled heaven

My poor fearless phantom man limping
doomed decks while only days away
that hideous white jaw of breaching
salvation promised walking on water
varicosed with the mark of Cain


Snow is light
that has sinned
too heavy to return

each silent failure
is a white church
where backless angels kneel
awaiting the hope of wings