A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
I waited out the storm— the fragrant cloud lined with violet raced west. The rain came down like a hail of black arrows, stained the boardwalk and dripped from the roof of the Tiki hut. There were people my age who forget they are aging when they look at the ocean. And survivors with numbers tattooed on their arms, straight as a bookkeeper’s sum, the ink indelibly blue, unlike the blessedly changing ocean. This would be my prayer—if I prayed— Please God, let everything keep changing. The wind shifted and we pressed closer to each other. There were five children clustered around their mother. Tall as an Olympian rower, she shivered, the damp sarong sagging at her hip. Water ran in little rivulets down her shoulders. Two of her children were identical twins. One looked at the ocean and did not move. The other pressed her lips to her mother’s belly— lips like a tiny pink boat with two pointed sails. She drew back her head and looked at the skin as if her lips would be printed there. Finding nothing, she leaned forward and tried again, and again found nothing. She tried once more but as before without much force— she was so small! At last forgetting her mother, she faced the incoming waves already departing, she and her twin on tiptoe, mirroring each other, even to the tendrils of wind-blown hair.
From The Dark Opens. Copyright 2007. Winner of the Autumn House Poetry Contest, selected by Mark Doty.