I am measuring my own meridians
in linen, silk and kisses,
stitching along the Pacific routes
that sundered us for all those years.
My service to empire was our separation,
With no nautical almanac
I made my own calculations
as you stood with your sextant
night after velvet night
measuring the distance
of stars from the moon,
from the horizon,
They said you died on Valentine’s Day.
When they arrived with the ditty box
the sailors carved,
with your lock of hair and the tiny painting
of your brave Hawaiian death,
I put aside the waistcoat
of tapa cloth I was making you,
cried into hard black skirts.
You found your longitude
but I’ve been measuring distances
ever since, and I’m tired of
suturing loss and years and stars.
I will burn our letters:
there have been enough discoveries.
I will finish sewing the world you found,
and sail to you.
This poem was previously published in the Heroines anthology (Neo Perennial Press, 2018).
Jane Frank teaches creative writing and literary studies at Griffith University in south east Queensland, and has qualifications in art history. Her poetry has appeared most recently in Meniscus, Eunoia Review, Cicerone Journal, Not Very Quiet, Takahe and is forthcoming in both Hecate and Antipodes. Poems have been anthologised in Pale Fire: New Writing on the Moon (The Frogmore Press 2019) and Grieve vol 7 (Hunter Writers Centre, 2019). She was joint winner of the Philip Bacon Ekphasis prize in 2019. Find more of her work at https://janefrankpoetry.wordpress.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/JaneFrankPoet/
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