A wooden sailboat riding low in the water, between the harbor and the barrier island given over to great blue herons and wild horses. Someone made off with the logbook, in which a history was recorded in the invisible ink of desire: the scandal surrounding its maiden voyage from London; the ports of call in which the fleeing family took refuge; their decision to dry-dock in Casablanca for the duration of the war they did not survive; the new owner's murky references; how he outfitted the boat to deliver armed insurgents to Albania; how it was stripped of the contraband he picked up off the coast of Peru; the foolishness of the authorities in St. Kit's who allowed him to escape; the changes in the weather on the night his boat capsized near Fiji and he disappeared; the discoveries of the marine biologist who sailed to Savannah, where the boat was torched by a slave trader's crazed descendant and then tugged north by a salvage company along the Intercoastal Waterway... The George III is peeling black paint from its bow to its stern and boards from all of its portholes. No one knows why it was named after the king. And who can explain why the tide is redder than the sun at daybreak? Sand drifts into the channel; the sprawl dredged from the point covers the marsh grass and dying trees in which the horses search for water. The sea is rising, rising. A heron glides over the oyster flats. The war will never end.
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Christopher Merrill directs the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. "Logbook" first appeared in The Iowa Review 35/1 (Spring 2005).