May 182013

It has been a very long time since I posted a Sunday Poem. I am about to get on another airplane in the morning, so I am posting it a day early.

This one’s bones came to me on a return flight from up the California coast, seeing the marine layer hovering at the edge of the ocean. It sat tall, far taller than any of the hills or cliffs. It looked a cliff itself, a glacier, maybe The Wall from Game of Thrones, overhanging the land. It looked like a shoreline in an inverted world where everything we are was lost in the dark except the little twinkling lights.

Seeing the clouds as an ocean is hardly new, of course, but it stuck with me as we descended. I thought about the liminal perspective a plane affords, an upbringing affords, and recited phrases to myself, trying to commit them to memory before they darted away like nervous fish. It has seen minimal revision from that version, scribbled onto an iPad in the airport parking lot.

Descending to the Airport at Night

Marine layer fog a glacier over cities:
For once the sea is higher than the land.
This is the deepest darkest ocean trench,
our plain, our towns, drowned in atmosphere.

We move insensible upon this sea bed
as fluorescent, incandescent fish.
Scattered jewels, sodden treasure jostled
by unknown eddies, unscoped physics,

the science of the currents, systems of
the waves, the sins of sociology,
the breathless and the brave reduced to just
a coral-tracing spattering. A crust.

shell-sandSalmon coursing off to breed,
a billion gaping mouths to feed,
territories mostly small,
traces barely there at all
once abrading water has its way
and softens all our brights to gray.

From this all life was born.
The sum. The sea. The salt.
We gasp, we dart. We flow.

Under microscope, from a beachhead far away
We are each as special as a grain of sand.

We are each as special as a grain of sand
Under microscope.

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