Atlantic Elegy

We see a little farther now and a little farther still
—C. D. Wright


I ask the rain to remit, but not because I am ungrateful
A raincheck for the rain—is such a thing possible?

In Florida, even the cold is warm by comparison
We sit at the ocean’s lip as it licks the sand from our toes

Consider instead—the terrifying beauty of alternative

I ask the sun to pumice our faces, blind us humble and good
Incumbent sun, so long accustomed to winning the stars’ wars

Consider although—like trying to whistle with a mouth full of             Saltines

We only know what we know
We only see what we see

I ask the space to persist after the hyphen that separates
Birth from death, to leave the parenthesis like a gap tooth

Then to no one in particular, I say: What age is not a tender                 age?


This hapless haptic misses her Blackberry
Such tender buttons, were they not?
The tiny Underwood slick inside her pocket


I ask the lifeguard not to hang the purple flag
For jellyfish and sting rays and the floating terror

Imagine if that were your name!

Also answers to: bluebottle, Physalia physalis, man-of-war

Consider except—Luminara of a word—bag of sand with a light            inside

Synonym for human perhaps?

I am not opposed to the idea of being lost—
like the red balloon, Mylar with a silver underside—
buoyed along these stubby waves

Consider forever—which is a trick command

A seagull tugs the string of the beached balloon
You see it more clearly now: a webbed design, the visage of                     Spiderman


When the rain comes, it is warm kisses, little white beads

Grown-ups stick their tongues out like children do
It’s not over till it’s over—and then, too soon


Copyright © 2016 by Julie Marie Wade. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 28, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Like so many young and aspiring poets, I started reading C. D. Wright in graduate school. Deepstep Come Shining in particular has remained a marvel and a touchstone for me all these years. In 2006, I finished a collection of six, long, experimental poems with Wright’s intellectual and aesthetic capaciousness in mind. Eight years later, she chose that relentlessly rejected volume, SIX, for the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s To the Lighthouse Prize.  I should have written her a letter of gratitude right then, but I waited, thinking I would have the chance to meet her and thank her in person someday. When Wright died, I thought of Donne: “Any [poet’s] death diminishes me because I am involved with [poetry].”  Maybe poems are most needed when we feel most powerless, and what makes us feel more powerless than death?  I reread Deepstep Come Shining and wrote this elegy.”
—Julie Marie Wade