Ride the wave, sweet darling; crest
that seven-gun salute all the way
to shore. Hunker down on the foamy
spit, head to knee, sheltered
from thunder’s thick rumble.
Listen as rain slicks your skin
seaweed-soft, rumours swelling
to the mossy surface. There is
an ocean inside each of us, bits of flotsam
and blood and bone kaleidoscoping
into new stars with every inhale
and exhale. The horizon slides away
like a mis-addressed letter
fated to wash ashore, later
pecked to mulch by wild beaks.
And that shoreline:
See loamy stalk wink out from sand
splayed like peeled-back skin. See
Atlas bone emerge from the earth,
moth rising from the dark, wings
a wide mouth in your palm.
It’s breathtaking, the body,
this loveliest of playing fields, this
husk we follow into even the darkest
corners. You begin as a bundle of
lost bones, of words and images
that stretch like skin flaps, tags latching
back into themselves in infinite loops.
Almost unnoticeable, as kindling is to wet
wood, as barnacle to ship hull, little
afterthought blinking into dusk like
a lighthouse’s light. You’ve been there,
tugging back layers of should-haves
and could-haves and musts. You’ve been
there with the water closing all around
you, and again when it drains away,
leaving your landscape moon-packed
and slick as a submerged log.
This is the response to your wild call,
prayer sent up from million-year-old
dirt or pushed ashore by the sea’s
steady hand. Swell, swell: the water
rows into its own current, soft and cool
as a wolfish howl. Cock your head
back, drop binocular to thigh.
Some things cannot be described.
The bones come now that you’ve raised
your head to drink in the lilacs. The bones
drop from the sky, climb out of the earth,
evade rocks and trees and streams to cross
your path. The bones are your compass, chrysalis,
and you will sing over them in a deep, sweet
baritone, a salute to what they have been
and will be again. You will sing
to their skin, sinew and muscles, to lungs
and bowels. Heart. You’ll sing to that first
inhale, watery yet sure, small beads gathering
in the corners of your eyes. You’ve drowned
from too much air, from not
enough. Scraped your rough patches
raw. Ringed yourself in chains
silvery as stars, cradled your elbows
and curled knees to chest, a tucked-tight
bud ready to unfurl on impact.