Winter of Tumult and Artifact

Again I navigate to the throat of the ocean for audible 
guidance and to acquire primitive details from the fraught 
plummet and slender horizon: a chain link, a stained
Bible. I make peace with the innocent wielding. At the edge— 
a teaspoon, a sandal. A shearwater circles without anger
and lightens, its wide wings, imperial, spread over
the repetition of distance. The wind leaves its motion
in filigreed sand, while out at the midpoint, an elliptical 
brooding. The water is full of itself and going nowhere
every twelve hours, and I might be the only one
to believe it or to be frightened. It commingles its salt
with lost objects and spits out a metal button, the hook
of an earring. The holy knife of water slices
further. Not that this could be simplified to the in-
out of action, the efficient carving of portions. Not
that anything is all farewell and return. Or all hunger.
Every time I capture a hollow bleached bone, a yawning 
plastic bag, another token, who says there is focus?
The grim light splashes up on me daily as I find
the remnants of strangers—a small tin, a key
still almost magenta. So it is pure reason to tend the endless 
wealth given by a thousand angles of light as water
dances the riptide. Every day an epiphany of loosening 
tedium. Out of the ocean’s sleek windows,
every vulnerable object seems to surrender. What I clutch
is only a resemblance of yesterday’s losses claimed
by the ocean’s euphoria, now docked in the slack at the shore. 
The cold is still luminous and preening. In the end,
there is no end if you stand long enough beside it.

Copyright © 2023 by Lauren Camp. This poem appeared in Worn Smooth between Devourings (NYQ Books, 2023)Used with permission of the author.