White sea, salted throat

Quiet sea, sand, salt and the bones of an old
Barnacled corpse, a pitiful anchored relic
Waiting for the pallbearers from the stone church;
The voice of the priest, fatness to a burial,
Behind the pulpit, white suited,
Eyelids and lips storming the pews;
Salt in his throat, and the tongue, burning like an ash can.

As the pallors gather, of neighborly faces and hands,
The widow pallor is gathering stones
Off the land-spit and the mouth-plugged tidal pools;
Poultice for her wounds, the lines of her eyes
Scalded by the sun. Her limbs, shadow shrieks
At an onlooker, trembling, drawn like old material,
Things, things— a wooden crutch, toeless foot;

A naked mouth, sun-bleached and awkward for a word.
Did I escape, I wonder?
Tremulous breath like fishing line— his water rod
No longer touching a wave, no longer sucking
A depth. I called you. I called you.
Waves pushing him to a rip tide, curve of water
Leaping into glassfuls of sea, rolling the notes of a dead bell.

Then, from the breakwater, his face turning, slowly, slowly,
I saw you— plumbed in the well of the good book, praying.
I rose from under glued sheets of waves,
Folded body, staggering with thoughts of my wife.
I have two legs and I moved smilingly, across the stretch
Of the beach. An empty touch, propped up by the wind.
Folded hands shaking, goodbye, as the sea reclaimed him.

Copyright © 08/11/18 lance sheridan®


White sea, salted throat