Twelve Sights of the Sea

By | 1 February 2014

barely inside and out, the rippling enfoldment
that adheres to your nerve-tips, that draws you
further away, abandons any comfortable reassurance

through your voice, strained to breakpoint,
hastily called upon, past your lips, parched,
cracking into bloodlines, blisters ready to weep

or swoop and dive and bank and soar
or pick scaly iridescence off your blinking eyes
or steal the thoughts leaking from your bones

from your memories of brothers, sisters,
babes-in-arms, collected, recollected, encased
by the thinnest of ivory, the purest of gold

across the ebb, the flood, the marks circumscribing
your day-long, week-long, drift through doldrums,
your irresolute desire to be elsewhere

the sweatiness of countless dock-side farewells,
the story you neglected to tell the crowds that came
and went and cheered and invariably forgot to smile

too bright for photography, too dense for dreams,
the sun, the air, the fire ablaze underwater,
while you, alone, prepared to catch the sparks

a fleck of paint, screw-threads, unspliced fray,
is this some kind of clue? splinters, half-varnished oak,
was this your final hand-hold?

perhaps you wished for oxygen, a raft, a tightly closed
bulkhead, instructions on which way to come about
in case of break or catastrophic failure below deck

what did you see, scratching for contact, before
the sky was crushed flat on its back, before
coral reefs zigged and zagged and slashed at the rain?

useless now, the oil-skins, Mae-Westers, personal
flotation devices as required under law, a buoy
engulfed with tendrils displaced in the roil

only By-the-Wind-Sailors, storm-sintered glass,
one canvas shoe, barnacles, slow-darkening Sargasso,
the bells, a message unbottled, awaiting receipt

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