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The Song of a Poet



Understand that I am dead,
dear poet, and do not need your saving.
My underworld sleeps at the bottom of the sea—
a wet conclusion I had long foreseen:
tranquil, yes, but far from dark,
for here shift fish and coral bearing the sun
in their bodies, hammered into such shapes
as only the tides can conceive. Colors? I have those:
the dappled citrons, gentians and pinks
of your hothouse blooms, worn as skin
by prey and cool predator alike.
I am never alone, sweet musician,
for this I have discovered about the ocean:
boundless as dream, it catches
every memory we may care to hold fast,
and casts it as shimmering shadow in water:
clear midnight in your eyes, moles rioting
on your cheeks, your sleek boyish head
tilting as you smile, your slightly turned
lip, the flowing length of your torso
lapping against my thigh, limpid notes
from your harp swimming to me again and again—
fleet accompaniment to the humpbacks’ songs
of mellow war and courtship. Borne out of brine,
these forms I can embrace without fear,
for they and I surge as one wave,
a spangled rhythm, repeating itself without end.
I know you wait, still and teary-eyed
upon the warm and rippled surface.
But you must see: here I am free to love you
beyond the encumbrance of a body,
animal always needing to be fed.
Fizzy outpourings, a happiness eddies
through me with every tidal pulse,
the birth of another moon upon the world’s
nether brim, the sheerest stirrings of life
inside the sea’s lambent cradles.
From where you sit, in the pith of your craft,
I may strike you as requiring release,
and indeed your vision plummets now to touch me
with salt-edged words, your hurt elegy.
But understand it is I who have released you
by escaping into meaning’s murmurous deep:
bereft of me, you have needed to strain to hear,
to pitch the net of your voice far, far
into the vast and echoing blue. Listen.
You can sing again, my precious one.
Already you have saved us both.

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Submitted on May 01, 2011

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