the crossing

we take our seats on the ferry
for the short trip across the Solent
watch the crew down on the main deck
hi-viz cowboys coralling the cars
with radios and gestures
until finally, they’re done
the ramp can be drawn
slamming us in together
the floor begins to shudder
and Yarmouth slides away

we settle into our seats
books
coffee
conversations

to my right is an elderly man and woman
the man slumped so low in his chair
he’s only stopped from sliding to the floor
by the bony clasp of his hands
the woman is perfectly upright, though
staring through the window
at the receding land
the lacy tumult of our wakebirds
smiling with her mouth slightly open
as if she alone has the measure of it all
particularly the birds
the way they pitch and fall and rise again
following us across the water

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