- Summer-long the gulls’ old umbra cry
but certain waves went by, then by.
The sky shook out the days.
The seabirds’ hunger rose in rings,
flung rock-clams to their shatterings,
raked gullets full, the bone-bills scraped.
High noon: oceans of time escaped.
All winter we slept benched together,
breakers, sleepdrunk children in a car
not conscious where they go.
We kneaded bread, kept out the weather,
while old suspicions huddled by the door,
mice in the snow.
In spring, the leaving bloomed—
oak leaf unfurled, a foot, resplendent
vigorous, aching to shake loose
but still dependent.
One morning moongreen loaves
rose into bones that rose to lift
our skin like sleeves,
our time together’s revenant.
Perennial fall, come cool the cliffs,
bring quiet, sulfur, early dark.
Represent as you must: dusk, dying, ends
and row us into winter’s water:
The body, wind-whipped, forms stiff peaks,
ice settles in the marrow bone.
At the chest, the live stone breaks against the beak,
beak breaks against stone
- Don’t feel small. We all have
been demoted. Go on being
moon or rock or orb, buoyant
and distant, smallest craft ball
at Vanevenhoven’s Hardware
spray-painted purple or day-glow
orange for a child’s elliptical vision
of fish line, cardboard and foam.
No spacecraft has touched you,
no flesh met the luster of your
heavenly body. Little cold one, blow
your horn. No matter what you are
planet, and something other than
planet, ancient but not “classical,”
the controversy over what to call you
light-hours from your ears. On Earth
we tend to nurture the diminutive,
root for the diminished. None
of your neighbors knows your name.
Nothing has changed. If Charon’s
not your moon, who cares? She
remains unmoved, your companion.
- Once my sister told me that from her summit at the city
pool she could see the yellow billows spread like gas
or dreams between kids’ legs. In something the size of the sea,
you can’t be sure who’s watching from above. Let’s say
it’s the Almighty, twirling His whistle, ready to blow it
at any moment and let loose the bottomless Apocalypse:
the ocean would make bone of a body, coral of bone.
Piss, and a tiger-fish darts through a skull-hole, a weed
weaves itself through ribs. You, too, have seen
the bulbs flash from the sea. You, too, have felt
it breathing down your neck. You eat fish. You’ve heard
that mermaids sing. My dreams are as beleaguered as the next
Joe’s, my happiness as absurd, but I’m not going to go
piss in the ocean about it. No, not in the ocean.
Show’s over, folks. And didn’t October do
A bang-up job? Crisp breezes, full-throated cries
Of migrating geese, low-floating coral moon.
Nothing left but fool’s gold in the trees.
Did I love it enough, the full-throttle foliage,
While it lasted? Was I dazzled? The bees
Have up and quit their last-ditch flights of forage
And gone to shiver in their winter clusters.
Field mice hit the barns, big squirrels gorge
On busted chestnuts. A sky like hardened plaster
Hovers. The pasty river, its next of kin,
Coughs up reed grass fat as feather dusters.
Even the swarms of kids have given in
To winter’s big excuse, boxed-in allure:
TVs ricochet light behind pulled curtains.
The days throw up a closed sign around four.
The hapless customer who’d wanted something
Arrives to find lights out, a bolted door.