There Is a Wilderness, There Will Always Be by Erin Bertram

The frisson that comes from being drawn further & further out of yourself.

The fear of it—the sudden, eventual release.

A full moon.

A sea of a million hair-cracked emeralds.

The injured shore within sight.

And, on occasion, a song sung in unison flung to, chasing, the wind.

A song flung overboard.

The ship went down less than a half mile off shore, a schooner that spoke in low moans when the wind bent it this way & that.

A ship that spoke went down along what is now called Shipwreck Coast.

Water over the bowed wales.

On board were crates of liquor in dark bottles.

On board were men in their boots & buttoned coats, brave men with faults & regret & desire stowed away up their shirtsleeves.

Men who clutched the complex sailor’s knots they’d staid just minutes before.

They’d been traveling for what felt like the distance between memory & the thing to which it, always imperfectly, refers.

On board were also horses saddled without riders.

Some sank faster on account of their flailing, while a single horse, stunned as he was, completely still, sank slower than all the others.
For him it wasn’t quick.

A calm acceptance of ruin would have earned him death’s kinder side.

As is, he went down watching, salt stinging his big, glassy eyes.
Erin M. Bertram is the author of twelve chapbooks, including from The Vanishing of Camille Claudel and Memento Mori, and has recently received awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences. Their work has appeared in Leveler, Uprooted: An Anthology on Gender and Illness, as a published finalist in the Diagram Essay Contest, and elsewhere. They live in Lincoln, NE, where they’re working on a doctorate in Creative Writing.