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The Institute of Nautical Archaeology

Does anyone at the INA have children?
I wonder if all of that time under water
makes you sterile, or more fertile, or
neither of the below. Below, there’s
time only for tides and octopuses
hiding in ancient urns, and the urn
and the octopus will argue about who
is the artifact as you tread, mouth agape,
trying to remember your grade-school
Greek so that you can say your prayers.

Tiny pieces of ancient vast and deadly
fleets dot the dark ocean floor beneath
Mount Athos like seeds, the dark silt
is fertile with history, not fear, unless
your fear is of the black ink of history,
which seems everywhere, says the
octopus, Herodotus, the pillar of
nothing that the INA can’t discover
in the textbook-page ocean floor
where the sad old octopus inks.

Shafer Hall‘s first full-length collection of poems, Never Cry Woof, was published in February of 2007 by No Tell Press. He is a senior poetry editor at Painted Bride Quarterly and bartends in New York City. His poems and collaborations have appeared in the Indiana Review, Eyeshot.net, Unpleasant Event Schedule, and many other journals.

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