Paola Ferrante — GOING SOUTH

Poem author and title: Paola Ferrante — GOING SOUTH Poem: 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. End of Poem. Copyright © Paola Ferrante Originally appeared in Bad Dog Issue 1, March 2019. Paola Ferrante's debut poetry collection, What to Wear When Surviving A Lion Attack, was published Spring 2019 by Mansfield Press. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The New Quarterly, Grain, The Puritan, The Fiddlehead, CV2, Room, Joyland and elsewhere. She won The New Quarterly's 2019 Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award and Room's 2018 prize for Fiction. She is the Poetry Editor at Minola Review and resides in Toronto, Canada. BAD DOG is dedicated to unapologetic poetry—visceral, intelligent, and without restraint.