A Proclamation

Our bodies give

into the ocean rolling
     us beneath its tongues     How do we sing
our loss
with water brimming our throats? Oh


Sea, You


are greedy and transform us—
     our faces soft and opening

You do not wash
but strike and shove   You
rinse babies from our arms     leave
husbands waiting     
We spin in your disregard   You

upend this body We
praise your ruin     
                                     Our monuments
rooting bones in all shores

Related Poems

American History

Those four black girls blown up
in that Alabama church
remind me of five hundred
middle passage blacks,
in a net, under water
in Charleston harbor
so redcoats wouldn't find them.
Can't find what you can't see
can you?

Sea Garden

Dead man’s fingers—
short and still
or waving spindles
brain coral,
mountain coral
ground small—they
would be pebbles
if they weren’t shards
hiding places
for trumpet
fish and crabs
live and dead coral
What is sand made of?
Who is to know
which is coral
and which
is bone
From the surface you
can see dark
patches where sea grass
and spirit hair grow

Daedalus, After Icarus

Boys begin to gather around the man like seagulls.
He ignores them entirely, but they follow him
from one end of the beach to the other.
Their footprints burn holes in the sand.
It’s quite a sight, a strange parade:
a man with a pair of wings strapped to his arms
followed by a flock of rowdy boys.
Some squawk and flap their bony limbs.
Others try to leap now and then, stumbling
as the sand tugs at their feet. One boy pretends to fly
in a circle around the man, cawing in his face.

We don’t know his name or why he walks
along our beach, talking to the wind.
To say nothing of those wings. A woman yells
to her son, Ask him if he’ll make me a pair.
Maybe I’ll finally leave your father.
He answers our cackles with a sudden stop,
turns, and runs toward the water.
The children jump into the waves after him.
Over the sound of their thrashes and giggles,
we hear a boy say, We don’t want wings.
We want to be fish now.