Going South


In case of armageddon, learn your knots. There is the rolling hitch, the sheet bend, a running bowline
called the king. A running bowline can be used to climb a wall, tie down a boat, hang the swing for
future children; a running bowline can be used to make a noose. Learn to tie the knot, but don't bother
with untying; that's not what you learned in church. I am told the clock is ticking. In the desert at noon
there's no need for a fire; you can fry an egg on a rock. In the desert, I learned to milk a cactus, seek
shade from packing crates, string Christmas lights on bunkers. I learned to start a fire with cartons of
eggs, start a fire when there is no longer a need. Things will be better next time. Eventually light comes
through heat, illusion of wet convection from hot asphalt, or the exhaustion of a jet. I'm told we looked
so happy once. Capture it on camera, like so many sunshines, frozen.

That time we went fishing, you tied a bumper knot to catch the bait; the bait was eggs, like breakfast.
Like breakfast there were always eggs, always sunny side up, for us. I'm told we looked so happy once.
Falling overboard, you said to keep my mouth shut, above the water. The last time I made eggs there
was a tiny chicken, red, with almost feet; I cracked the yolk. Things will be better next time. There are
ways to keep from drowning, empty out the diaphragm, drink, forget a deeper breath. Remember a
mirage is not the water; a mirage means to admire. A mirage means learn prevailing winds, check the
water's surface, see on what side debris has settled. Divination is preservation, not what you learned in
Scouts; lines drawn on an analog clock directly between hour hand and twelve are metaphor more than
cardinal direction. When I don't like where this is going find true North without a compass; use duct
tape, a cork from that last bottle of champagne. Pucker up, wait for it to rain. I am told remember
congratulations. Even when we're headed in opposite directions, remember eggs, sunny side up. Now
any unconscious move is the difference between going South or otherwise, between loosening the knot
or otherwise. This is the difference between thirst and drowning, even in a body of water that isn't.  


Paola Ferrante's poetry and fiction have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Puritan, The Fiddlehead, CV2, Joyland, Room Magazine, Carte Blanche, Canthius, Minola Review, Overland, and elsewhere. Her poetry was a finalist for the Malahat Review's 2018 Open Season Awards, nominated for the 2018 Best of The Net award, and long listed for the 2017 Thomas Morton Memorial Prize. Her fiction won first prize in Room Magazine's 2018 Fiction Awards, was shortlisted for PRISM International's 2018 Grouse Grind, and long listed for SmokeLong Quarterly's 15 anniversary Flash Fiction Award. Her chapbook, The True Confessions of Buffalo Bill, was published by Anstruther Press. Her first full length poetry collection, What to Wear When Surviving A Lion Attack, is forthcoming from Mansfield Press in Spring 2019. She resides in Toronto, Canada. Her twitter handle is @PaolaOFerrante.