Hannah Rogers  

 

     

 

     

              How James Cook Was Nurtured by a Blue Clam

 

 

Salted days and windblown stars our mission

stated be: the inking of parallax. When

parted the water around atolls 

maps confirmed an emerald beyond the reef. 

 

Pandanus’ bark beckons idles and so evening

exposed its tender meat for snails. Above the

roots playing a chime of pods, 

the mangrove crab accompanies their feast. 

  

The shell unfolds its tongue outstretched to tides

its open whirl the sun pulls back and dries. Oars

press against the fulcrum ocean curls 

to syncopate fleet martial revelries.  

 

Between terns’ cadence a flag unfurls, the

eyepiece we mounted thus from the her bow.

We see the Roman lady pace the sun 

We marked and took the telescope in turn. 

 

Our voyage that night its purpose lay clear.

The glass was bent but how could we know as

Britain awaits our notes, the boats we 

sent our sights to match center never found. 

 

Three times our moon passed away before us, as

here we found what long we thought upon. 

Vanilla and Sailor’s Valentines to be 

So set we at last preparing for sea. 

 

Feather peplums joined with coconut charms

their songs we embraced, our engravings true

but memory selects sensational facts: 

sacrifice was the way they knew. 

 

Collecting ship, we treasure the least rare: the

seeds, the hides of creatures large and small, the

temperature of parts unknown, the glass 

holds worlds known by the microscope alone. 

 

I but a new man, a tabula rasa, my wax now

fused to freshly mollusced sands, peeled back

the shell, poured in the boiling sea, 

and from blue flesh yet she a gleaming white. 

  

While ocean touched her brief array she glowed 

Yet when I packed her in wool cloth she grayed. 

If time should take me back to those late waves, 

I would return to that black beach the pearl.

 

 

 

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