• Lammergeier Staff

Approximating Fathoms | Ceridwen Hall

Updated: Sep 22

March 2020

We stretch our arms—to transfer my spare key —

an almost fathom, though we remain above sea level. To launch nuclear

strikes from a submarine, two people must turn keys in panels distanced

beyond armspan—a measure intended to diminish accidental transmission;

since armspan equals roughly height, six feet is the minimum. A fathom,

from the Old English for embrace, but to say goodbye we reach

both arms out, like wings mirroring wings. There isn’t a protocol yet

because exact risk can’t be fathomed. The distanced keys weave

mutual cooperation into acts of immeasurable consequence. How far

droplets can travel is still undetermined. About leash length, I think

to myself, or two grocery carts, as the signs say, or my brother prone

on the ground. A hand shorter, I attempt to fathom: launch orders

must be checked against a code, confirmed to match

before the keys are turned. Our lungs convey unknown after

unknown, but my friend is a not a risk-

taker. We concur. Under shallow breath, our hands guess

half a fathom between us.

Ceridwen Hall is a poet and educator from Ohio. She is the author of a chapbook, Automotive (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, Pembroke Magazine, Tar River Poetry, The Cincinnati Review, and other journals. You can find her at www.ceridwenhall.com.