Gymnast Anna at Sea

The beam she walks is wider than they’re wont
to be, she sees. It is anchored at one end
but not the other, like a diving board.

A pulled-punch, prodding cutlass punctuates
her pause to think. Her puncture fear propels
her next step forward, leaving her less plank

than she’d wish for, and the ship’s slight heeling shows
her more waves than she’s seen since the time she won
the Olympic gold, and a friendly crowd had cheered

her coming home with it, had met her plane.
‘Planck’s constant,’ she says, seeing first her words
and then their value, wondering should her steps

be quantum small, could she prolong her stroll?
‘The plank is constant,’ said the Moorish Mate,
‘the penalty for not being one of us

but of another tribe.’ His hooting crew
hosannas Anna, while the arabesque-
festooned blade of his cutlass draws first blood

and then her full attention. Pirouetting
on what, for her, is a boulevard-wide beam,
she somersaults, then leaps on the Mate’s head

and hands it to him, having swiped his blade
then swiped it, horizontally, through his neck.
Four leaps suffice to reach the quarterdeck… …

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