You write things down in your sleep
you can’t remember when you wake up,
casting off doubts like rowboats into low surf
receding toward another saltwater nowhere
on the way to leaving the poem behind.
You wonder if form could be contagious,
shaping the visible to the horizon
where the sky drowns in your blues,
your green unsettled waves scribble their signatures
on white sand comprising millions of crushed quartz
particles. Willets and black-headed laughing gulls
skim the white and wrinkled pages
for what waves left behind, the drowned out
names: polychaete worms, small clams, and snails.
If we were standing on the beach
to watch the Gulf roll out its jade
and turquiose distance, I’d put a flag there
for you: sea turtle, nurse shark fin, floating
log of drifwood bobbing, something
to break up the horizontal, break into
song that interrupts the rush and hiss of tides
on sand, water’s willingness to wander,
to return. Several schools of rays
fly underwater just off-shore,
mantas, perhaps, but much too small,
what are they teaching today? The wind
is a secret that tells itself, its heavy
vowel clusters mumbling afternoon.
We have come to the end of the body
and the body doesn’t end, terns and
brown pelicans break the surface concentration
to dive for small fish. Local bays and bayous
are almost swallowed up
in dioxin, sewage, run-off from the paper
factory and toxic seepage from assorted
Superfund sites. Perdido, Blackwater,
Texar and Grande still glister, what with the light
locked in its present tense (today casts off its doubts
like sand poured from white sneakers).
Gulls salvage whatever they can
find, pick at the remains of pronoun
and place, never look light in the eye.
We cannot get simpler colors (your eyes are blue
with flecks of green, or gray mingled with
blue), wouldn’t want that anyway.