Self-Portrait as Miranda by Geri Doran
My story begins at sea, in the bitter liquid.
If not, it would begin in Florida, along I-95
in the circular drive of a circular, lime-green motel.
But I have selected the sea, and you must
trust me on this. Truly terrible stories
begin in navigational error, a slight misreading
of the sight that sets the crew in a maelstrom.
Perhaps in another story it would be a man
standing at the door, surprised that he’s knocked,
that you have, in turn, answered. He wishes
now that he had lingered in that drive, paused
before resuming the course toward your door.
As the crew, in desperate but unspoken straits,
wishes belatedly for a drag on the anchor.
Frequently, we are thus carried along.
Frequently, de profundis, we struggle ashore
to find ourselves, if not stranded, then beached.
We are inclined to be grateful for land.
Survivors of shipwreck cast two shadows:
the outline of interrupted light, and an aura, thirst
to drown again. Perhaps, in the unwritten story,
the man at the door looks thirsty. You sense
he has come to repair himself at the dry dock
of your flesh. There is nothing else to do.
Your home is an island of white sand
and he wades in from the shoals of the walkway
asking for fresh water. So you find him berth.
This much Miranda herself could explain:
how Ferdinand come shimmering from the sea
appeared no less a rescuer than she,
with his handful of kelp and the pretty words
of a man desperate for sanctuary.
Ferdinand missed that she was shipwrecked
too. Miranda had the shadowy thirst.
You know the rest of the story.
They’re happy. Then it ends in the bitter sea.
This is another improbable poem that lived on my desktop without my remembering it. I don’t know how I found it but I can see why I liked it what with the rhythm and story-like quality along with the allusion to Shakespeare’s The Tempest.