The Proposal


She’d taken the job

as a biologist

aboard an Alaskan fishing vessel,

seasick for fifteen days straight,

vomiting, desperately trying

to monitor

each haul of rockfish

the fishermen hoisted

onto the rough back

of the Bering Sea,

the peak of each wave,

the crest of my voice

coming through the earpiece

of a satellite phone,

twenty bucks a minute:

I asked her to marry me.


When the ship finally docked,

she was a wreck,

escaped a summer squall just barely,

never found

her sea legs,     gave up,

fell asleep inside

a Kodiak airport

while she waited for her flight home,

a dim glow buoyed

to the horizon.


She dreamed that she set off

on wobbling foot into the wild

backwoods of Alaska,

and inside

the lichen green of midnight

she saw a cabin

peeking out

from the mountains

with me standing

on the front porch

whittling a stick to a point.


She watched me volley it

into the air,

watched it rise

in its parabolic arc

and stick lovingly

into the ground at her feet.

I told her our marriage

would arc just like that,

so she took the ring off the javelin

and put it on. It came to life,

wrapped a tendril up her arm

and she too came to life,

no longer seasick,

no longer homesick,

no longer alone

and puking headlong

into a bucket.


I wrapped a quilt

over her chilled shoulders

and followed her inside

where a fireplace

gnawed mindlessly

on hunks of cedar.

She dreamed

she was finally home,

and we made love

for the first time in months,

almost like strangers,

the sound of our names


between the teeth of the fire.



Photo By: Beverley Goodwin


About Author

Travis Mossotti was awarded the 2011 May Swenson Poetry Award by contest judge Garrison Keillor for his first collection of poems, About the Dead (USU Press, 2011), and his work has appeared in such places as the Antioch Review, Manchester Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Subtropics, The Writer’s Almanac, Vallum and many others. In 2009, he was awarded the James Hearst Poetry Prize from the North American Review by contest judge Robert Pinsky, and in 2010 his poem “Decampment” was adapted to screen as an animated short film. He currently resides in St. Louis with his wife Regina and their daughter Cora.

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