The child tells me, put a brick in the tank,
don’t wear leather, don’t eat brisket,
snapper, or farmed salmon—not tells,
orders—doesn’t she know the sluice gates
are wide open and a trillion gallons
wasted just for the dare of it?
Until the staring eye shares that thrill,
witnessing: I am just iris and cornea,
blind spot where brain meets mind,
the place where the image forms itself
from a spark—image of the coming storm.
Still the child waits outside the bathroom
with the watch she got for Best Essay,
muttering, two minutes too long.
Half measures, I say. She says, action.
I: I’m one man. She: Seven billion.
If you choose, the sea goes back.
Copyright © 2015 by D. Nurkse. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 7, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.