Blow-job Coleslaw

“A woman will give you anything,”
T.K. would advise, “if you know
how to cook.” He’d lean against
the scarred cutting block, sleeves
rolled up past the elbow, chopping
the purple and ivory cabbage
we could only get once in a while
into its narrow shreds. Some nights
I still dream of the salmon boat,
its picking bin littered with black tape
and hanging twine, sunset turning
dim like a weld over the Bering Sea.

We chewed the fine roughage
gratefully along with our noodles
and corned beef hash, the net
a loose skirt flaring down
over the stern roller’s horns.
So much vinegar, so much mayonnaise:
night coming up from the shifting depths,
its dark veils unwinding, its unbraided hair,
floating half a mile up the cutbank, we
slept in our damp socks and sweatshirts,
we opened our cramping, feverish hands.

About Joseph Millar:
Joseph Millar’s first collection, Overtime, published by Eastern Washington University Press in 2001, was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Millar grew up in Pennsylvania and took an MA from Johns Hopkins in 1970. It would be two decades before he returned to poetry. His work has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Oregon Literary Arts. In 1997, he gave up his job as telephone installation foreman and moved to western Oregon, where he teaches at Oregon State University and in Pacific University’s low-residency MFA program.