I unlock a side-door, step into a waterless well. Blind, I wait until my cat’s-eyes brighten in the dark. Warily, I climb a hundred stairs: they angle off like branches, creaking in a funnel of wind. I pause; pause again. I frame pictures engraved on air.
A cramped landing before a convex door. I turn the tarnished key. A cylindrical room, a ring of portholes, scattering yellowed disks along the floor. I seem to be in a tower; I look out, safe at last. The sea is taut, a ribbon of navy-blue foil. A quarter-moon skims the horizon, its prow and stern on an even keel: a shiny boat, a primitive toy. I reach out and pick it up with one hand.
I hold a toy boat, but I am inside it, the only one who knows: we’re adrift, lost at sea, and will never come back. The passengers and crew still believe in a port. They talk in their sleep: their babbling coma keeps me awake.
My only refuge is the captain’s deck. No one remembers the day when he fell overboard. I lie in his hammock and stare at the sunset. The sky tilts from red to gold, aquamarine to blue, violet to indigo, sinks at last into limitless black— and then reignites, a cinder-cloud of stars.
Hoyt Rogers is a writer and translator. He translates from the French, German, Italian, and Spanish. He has published many books; he has contributed poetry, fiction, essays, and translations to a wide variety of periodicals. His edition of Yves Bonnefoy’s Rome, 1630 received the 2021 Translation Prize from the French-American Foundation. His translation of Marco Simonelli’s Will: 24 Sonnets appeared in February 2022 at Mudlark Editions online. His forthcoming works include a poetry collection, Thresholds (MadHat Press), the novel Sailing to Noon (book one of The Caribbean Trilogy), and a translation of Bonnefoy’s The Wandering Life (Seagull Books). For more information, please visit his website, hoytrogers.com.