She couldn’t keep the sea inside her | Likewise | he couldn’t keep the sea inside him | and there were hawks

This is the day she thought | I will keep the sea in | She knew it was there | he was less certain

They called the sea by different names | but the names floated on the sea | wreckage from storm-struck schooners | branches of tamarind, garlands of hyacinths, given as offerings | tennis balls

Days, he seemed a shore | evenings, more delicate, like the shredded glitter of insect wings | caught in high beams but first in glances

And there were hawks | diving | Threads picked up and put down | He thought they led to dry land, some at least, but he didn’t know | the land was inside the sea’s heart | the sun and the stars, too | They both believed | they could escape the sea | but when they couldn’t sleep | all they could feel | waist deep and overturning | was the glimmering conundrum of the waves | rolling and breaking | and their bodies being slowly dragged | to and fro | in the cold jaws of tides

She couldn’t keep the children inside her | and there would always be a slant, the way the moment | signs itself, under pines, at dusk, say | or couched inside an air bubble rising | from the seabed | half asleep and wings crumpled | eyes like a lynx, and daddy far off at the wars

Days, she was so capable | she understood the rules | She kept her loneliness | sewn away inside her, at night though the sea | swelled and tore down | the wallpaper with orange trees, the efficient | circulation of the blood | loyalty | the weight of the moon | things like that

Amicable | the conversation, the subtle currents | of gestures, timbre with rainforests, sadness, just the right | shimmer of levity | they had so many names for the sea, but the sea | outran them all, and the sea | had a name for her | she never heard | and for him | even for the hawks | flying so fast, over the coast, who knows where?

The sea | kept them inside itself | and sometimes | this was called drowning


from the series hypergrammar (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, September 2014)