267 words . Jan 2013 . (w/ thanks and apologies to Anne Michaels)

I admit:
I have been searching for dead fish on the beach,
and I have been clinging harder than limpets, making my glue
and remembering the east and the west of all that I know and all that I’ll never know that I don’t.

If I cry, my father will call me weak,
If I cry without sound and face the sea, I will be.

What is the word for having known something very beautiful, very well, and for a very long time?

The closest I have been able to think of is ‘ocean’ or ‘drown’
Or in the most desperate telephone silences
‘mother’, my own.

In each of her tides
I have fashioned and tested myself.
The mind loves hope
Dumb mind,
Throwing one leg after another,
farther and farther.
It convinced me all the old love
was made of caliber and courage and the sum of all the syllables I still lack.

From California, he described to me Noriega facing Ocean Beach
From New York, he described all that the world (and I) could be,
He knew.

I will remember this version of events
I will remember this version of me
If you go west from San Francisco you may wind up in New York City
But it’s going to be a different trip.

Do you see the difference?

Dear ocean: I was born with smooth soles
I was born polite even then
I did not struggle with my parents because they thought I loved them already

and not knowing that there was, another coast, another way to have a choice.

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