Austin Segrest Click to

asegrist-213Hailing from Alabama and Georgia, Austin Segrest is a PhD candidate at University of Missouri and poetry editor of The Missouri Review. His poems appear in The Yale Review, New England Review, The Threepenny Review and many others.

Mr. Warham’s first sea storm
I sat with him in his chambers.
We read together the Psalm
about them that go down
to the sea in ships. He was far
he said, looking green,
from having list to sleep
with Jonah. I said it seldom
falls out that a ship perisheth
at storm if it have sea room.
So he began to call his study
his sea room. I told him
about different names for gales—
the dainty loom that was gentle
and the fair frum as fit
as a wind could blow.
Becalmed the next morning,
I said your prayers were heard.
He said aye that sometimes
it was all or nothing with the Lord,
that when it rained it poured.
I said aye we’re better off now
walking the plain and even meadow,
had we the feet for it.
In a fog we fumbled about
like a blind man he said,
as we drummed for The Lion
Whelp and sounded with a line
above a hundred fathom
and found not bottom.
He likened whales’ backs
to little isles and said
that islands in a fog were like to whales.
And what’s a ship but an island,
and isn’t it true we’re riding
on the backs of whales ourselves,
or else in their bellies?
Pouring off water, the flukes
of right whales rose like angels
as they dove. Behold,
they mount up to the heaven
said the Reverend.
They go down again to the depths.
He thought the bladderwrack
knit yellow above the bank
were gillyflowers gleaned
from the low meadows
of New Jerusalem.
Everything touched
by his words was renewed.
I hadn’t the heart to tell him.