Ocean, every so often, a kitchen tile or child’s toy
rises from you, years after the hurricane’s passed.
This time, the disaster was somewhere else.
The disaster was always somewhere else, until it wasn’t.
Punctuation of the morning after: comma between red sky
and sailors’ warning; white space where a storm cloud lowers.
Where the bay breaks away, the sentence ends: a waning
crescent of peninsula, barely visible
but for the broken buildings, the ambulance lights.
Ocean, even now, even shaken, you hold the memory
of words, of worlds that failed slowly, then all at once. A
flotilla of gulls falls onto you, mourners draped in slate.
Copyright © 2022 by Liza Katz Duncan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 30, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.