Fierce white feet,
paddling harder and harder
on the bristling waves,
somersault of light,
a foam of dolphins
drenched their glistening fears.
Player piano and the
mazurkas of the forbidden heart,
it killed us with a bowl of fruit,
a single pineapple that
reached the shore.
Round and round in circles,
fierce little feet,
their widening wake,
carrying the laughter of
I thought of spiders and seabirds,
things that never dreamed of death,
or burst pipes,
or a broken coast.
And the children trailed their toes
and combed the sea’s green hair.
She shuddered at their touch,
she welcomed their kisses,
and the paper boats that ignited
beneath a flaming feather in the sky.
A dozen tiny children
squatting on the rocks,
crabs in pools,
wind collapsing seaward.
Children of a crueler world
pulling off the ocean’s legs.
A dozen sea birds
angry in the sky,
the silent fish and chip hordes.
The wind returns across the surf,
holding the hand
of a dead fisherman.
A dozen memories of you,
seaweed on the sand,
you waded here,
stones between your thighs.
The seagulls were happier then,
the children kind,
the crabs still had their claws.
Sharp forest of oceanic pines,
a toxin that inflames giant seabirds
and drives them to the annihilating shores.
In the opening of the sea flower,
the awakening of the wounded whale
that cries beneath the sand,
and a pleasure that assaults a coast of disintegration,
a song of salt-invaded girls.
In the shell’s soft folds at your core,
the voice of the sea is unassailable.
What enters us overflows,
while the stones that vibrate in the surf
propel us toward the deeper ecstasy of loss.
We, the ones already marked for death,
find here the vessels of other lives.
They were right to call it wild.
Even here, the houses of this
wind-beaten city grow taciturn,
and in their huddles,
speak only in hushed tones,
seem poised on tip toes,
and feel like stiff tourists,
or those who don’t stay long.
For there is still something
it commands in us,
as with the uneasiness of children
in the matriarch’s cloying room.
Here, we learn of limits,
and find again
the muteness of our steps.
And what do we know
of its quarrel with the sea,
which has left deep scars
in these cliffs,
or of the burden of salt
which it carries?
We are a passing of seabirds,
a foam of scattered centuries,
while it carves us
beneath a weight of solitude.
Between the waves
that breach like whales,
it remains the last
untranslatable, wild word,
a shoulder of wind.
The sea is a radiance
of flying fish.
And the clouds too
crowd and play
in their own deep ocean.
Here the hills spread out
like a banquet of goodbye,
and in the voices of others,
the migrant joy of salt.
Crossing the strait,
the seabirds already send me,
like a message,
to the unwritten shore.
I crest the hill of this salt swept morning,
to a sky of violence.
And the wind,
that marauder of trees,
upsetter of crisp clothes lines,
that Attila of the ferocious sea,
brings me angry messages from afar.
It will not let you remain, you know,
forever and forever, like a stone ornament
sunk in the phlegmatic moss.
Even if you want rest, you can’t have it.
Even if you want to be silent, you can’t.
Everything in the city moves
like an earthquake of air.
The wind peels the paint from the windowsill,
and tosses dogs out of doors,
and the city evaporates
with a flock of dispersed seagulls.
You cannot hold this,
like a clutch of bills, a purse of longing,
for the wind brings an angry message from the sea,
brings a bruised fruit
that dropped from the already afflicted tree.
And I walk in this annihilating hour
with a lightened soul.