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To the New World by Valerie Duff
To the New World

What eats through fibers, salt
And sting, our hands defeat.
We make our journey comforting—
Wood masts rot, or is it just

That planks reflect the gutter light
Of daybreak? Dawns we wake
To smoke of rusted galley stoves.
From buckets, swabbing hieroglyphs,

The story going on the wall.
Our prayer: Consume
My heart away. The seaman's
Cough, the first mate shrill.

Brass canteen, directory and quills
Coursing under foam, holds
Stocked with flour, rosaries.
We keep the books. We keep

And write it down, and look
For tell-tale signs.
An albatross. Whale whiteness
In the sky. The bleakness

Of our tarnished boat, the afterglows
Of beach. A voyage
We've been on so long.
But weren't we spoken to?

These rocking waves, vast winds.
No laws. Not here.
No laws, no hearth, no heart,
No dowry dress, we mean no harm.

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