Ocean Poem II

The Shores of the World

Where the seam of the sky and the open sea meet
the mind’s long gaze, and the tide tugs all along the earth’s vast sands –
the edge of the world held out into space like a gift on a palm –
the weight of the infinite day rests on canvass bags and coolers.
Children dig for China, and chair-borne historians
toes tunneling in the white heat for the cool and damp
consider once more who lost it.
Volleyball nets sag under the competing sun.
The spiraling pass is never caught.

Long-legged birds, stalks in the ripples
litter the air with squawks amid the ocean squalls.
Canvass bodies stretch beneath the coloring sun.
Easy, darting feet stroll the tide pools, tease from the surf
a simple heaven of play.
In the deep roar of the ocean’s open shell
ancient odysseys moan, screaming sirens fade
from the only possible world.

In the broad glow of afternoon, when what is
is with so much kindness and joy, it is hard to imagine
an end to the pleasurable day, the final shore
where all the odysseys are ancient and every siren screams
when time fatigues the will and sickness steals the heart
the mind bending toward some wider sea, deep
in coralline forgetfulness. Drifting, then, on waves of illness
sinking from the white crests that bore us once, will we
regret the loss of beaches, remember water shouts and cloudless skies

or push off weakly, letting go, letting go
the pitch of life, content, in new ways, not to care, unconcerned
we are not there, that the day abides without us? Far shores
become nearer shores, become currents that bear us by the booming surf
the crash and cymbal of living time, the calls, the cries – the striving gesture
the grasping mouth, raiment of the selves we wore like crowns – and passing
silent on a stormless sea, hear whispers of the luring tide, the lulling leeward bearing
see shadows of the rayless sun, feel only the winter flight of birds in the
wake of all that was and makes a wish, awash, a wave, away.