On a Thirty-Foot Sloop
by Abbie Johnson Taylor
June, 1984, in my mid-twenties,
I set sale with my family under a cloudless sky
from a marina at Redondo Beach, California.
The rented boat glides through smooth port waters.
Like the passengers on Gilligan’s Island,
we anticipate a pleasant three-hour cruise.
Once we hit the waves, my stomach revolts.
Moments later, holding the leaking sack
containing what was once my lunch, Uncle Tony asks,
“Will the EPA mind if I throw this overboard?”
“No problem,” says the skipper.
He hands me a bucket,
places a hand on my shoulder
while I let it all out.
A helicopter whirrs overhead.
“They’re making a movie,” Uncle Jon speculates.
Oh boy, I always wanted to be in a movie,
Barfing on the High Seas.
Later, the skipper reminisces about man overboard drills.
Still nauseated, I glance at the water, the shore.
If I jumped in, tried to swim,
would I make it?
After three of the worst hours of my life,
I stumble onto the dock,
exhausted, sunburned—it could be worse.
The above poem was published in the August 29th issue of The Weekly Avocet, a nature poetry journal, and is also on my blog here. Click below for a recording of me reading it.