By Patty Dickson Pieczka

Time curls in on itself like a dried leaf,

and I am a toddler, my short legs uncertain

as shadows of willows wavering on grass.


Years curve further back, and I see light

through closed eyelids. Scent of antiseptic,

murmur of unintelligible voices.


And then warmth, comfort, heartbeat–fading

to nothing. I float for years in the cold

beneath dark waters. No light reaches these


depths, nor season, nor time, no soft

conversing of shell to sand, only this sense

of melted dreams. Somewhere in a barnacled


valley, a ship is crusting, mainsail of seaweed

flagging her mast, echoes of wood, sodden and

creaking. Clammy fingers cradle my spirit,


so removed from tales of tunnel and harp,

Uncle Bill and angels bathed in light.

Breath burns my lungs with salt as I emerge


from death. Upending in the night: a huge, black

hull, spun from nightmares. The moon throws

a silver rope that keeps slipping out of reach.


Water irresistibly lifts me to the deck. Waves

spill into the sea, boots firmly holding to wood.

In my cabin, I read the log to find the dead


reckoning of nautical miles. I test each word

in my low and newly familiar voice, hold each

in my mouth like the softest cake, taste their


sweetness on my tongue: Tortuga, Nassau, Marrakesh.

The ocean dances, gold and scarlet, sunset

holding promise vast as the expanse of water.


The author of the book Lacing Through Time (Bellowing Ark Press, 2011), and a chapbook, Word Paintings, (Snark Publishing, 2002), Patty Dickson Pieczka was the 2010 recipient of the Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award and the 2012 Library of Poets Book Award from The Bitter Oleander, and was nominated for an Illinois Arts Council Award. Her second book, Painting the Egret’s Echo, will be published by The Bitter Oleander later this year. She graduated from the Creative Writing Program at Southern Illinois University. Writing contributions have appeared in more than 50 journals, including Bluestem, Blue Unicorn, Crab Orchard Review, Willow Review, Red Rock Review, California Quarterly, Green Hills Literary Lantern, and The Cape Rock. 

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