The Galley Bitch

Wake at 4 to be on time for my first job cutting
squid on the St. Anthony. The gulls in Captree State Park

are furious for fish and gas sheens the surface.
I am inspired by what’s happening. Captain Bill

tells me I'll be pretty when I grow boobs
and hands me an ice-pick. The block of ice weighs

twenty pounds. I'll inspire my people too, show them
how to pull the spines from squid while smoking.

The mates already know this trick. They fidget
in the cabin with coffee and cards, wait for fish.

There's not any question about girls
being strong, about the open bay, about survival

at stake. I'd love to make some food for pay
but here everything’s frozen, everyone drunk.

I hate one mate so I ash his burger. I fall
asleep in the galley and wake:

a blowfish bloats my pocket. I take his revenge lesson with me.