Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "Adrift in the Sea of Online Dating," a previously unpublished poem by Kristine Chalifoux, the Chairperson of the English Department at Raleigh Charter High School. Ms. Chalifoux received her MFA from Columbia University. In her professional life, she has been the Assistant Director of the Poetry Society of America, and the Associate Director of DePaul University’s Honors Program. Her chapbook, In This Light, won the 1999 West Town Press prize. Her poems have appeared in a number of literary magazines, including The Brooklyn Review, The Antioch Review, and Janus Head. She resides in North Carolina with her magical daughter, Ktimene.
Alone on my island of rumpled bed clothes
I desire to put my best foot forward
Which is good, since what follows,
Arthritic knee and stiff hip, are wonky
At best. I desire what we all do, a calm port
In the storm, and find this glass and steel
Box, with its flickering images, its buttons
Like “flirt” or “smile” or “like” the most
Unworthy of vehicles, hardly seaworthy
And yet the boat in which I find myself
Journeying forth. What I really need
To find is the right sail to catch the winds
Of change, whatever gusts are sashaying
Through this channel, this rugged pass
Littered with boulders and half-submerged
Jagged rocks ready to capsize this frail
Craft at every moment. It doesn’t help
To see inside the box, to find the lost
Left broken and bereft amid their hopeless
Grammar and navigationless spelling
Errors. So many shipwrecks! So much
Drowning. I thought it would be
Easy to ahoy another mariner, an able bodied
Seaman who can trim the jib and reef
The sail, someone who, like me, has room
For one more sailor on the deck, and
Who, like me, is learning, step by
Cautious step, to navigate by starlight.
Poet's Notes: As a writer, I tend to take the ability to communicate effectively on the page somewhat for granted; however, finding myself recently single and engaging in the social phenomenon known as "online dating," I've had to reconsider the gift of literacy and my gratitude for it.
Editor’s Note: I enjoy the nice, lilting rhythm of this poem and find the conceit of nautical navigation as a metaphor for Internet dating to be refreshingly original and well presented. Ms. Chalifoux’s use of ironic humor is just right, too. There are, after all, "plenty of fish in the sea." The trick is to find the right fish.