I imagine the egg shells of my childhood
stacked carefully one on top of the other
in a room with doors as tall as a quarter.
The little witches bustle to and fro.

There must be a control room
with maps of every ocean lining
the walls, the floors, the ceilings.
A cockpit for a tiny band

of exiled, mocked, and troublemaking
women-sprites. And all the eggshells
that I never broke will spell
the end for countless ships

and boats and even rafts —
if floating now, these masterminds
could sink it. Using toothpicks
for their paddles, a fleet approaches.

The captain cannot see them coming.
The first mate feels a lurch, the cargo
swings across the hold, starboard bound.
“A leak! A leak! We’ve sprung a leak!”

All chaos, all confusion, men like rats and beetles
scurry up on deck, hold each other and the mast,
spray splashes sailors as they shimmy up the rigging
eyeglass clutched to chest — what rock, what iceberg?

No red sky greeted them that morning,
no soul dared whistle at the wind,
no woman hid in breeches.
They were so careful, so considerate.

Rescue crews are baffled by the wreck.
Above the ship, now many leagues below,
a perfect round of eggshells floats,
each halved, unbroken.

Zoe Guttenplan


Zoe Guttenplan lives between New York and Vermont. Her work has appeared in BlazeVOX17, Ratrock Magazine, 10011 Magazine Online, Remembered Arts Journal, Bombus Press, and Feels Zine: Anger. She is the recipient of a SELEF prize for poetry.

© 2019