when you wake
you are swimming in it
bathtub belly, a mind in sparks
bite clinched like a shark
tail thrashing tight churned circles
dark fin slicing moonlight thin
teeth like a row of iced knives
each night—night, after night—
the darkness spins
the house rots, the body too
even your children
are destined to grow old
and die, your belly knows
demands your share of the pain
every step of the way
a stone crossing the river
at rising tide
Tell me about the memory of water, its travels, the weeks spent gathering, pulling itself close like a shattered ghost drawing its life back, one recollection at a time, the thinnest whisper of moisture rising from wetlands, from ocean, from sprinkler and canal, drawing together everywhere, circling like seagulls pulled into cloud.
All summer I’ve been thirsting for that cool plunge into the lakes of my youth,waves nothing more than a sigh against the hot sand beach, that hurried run in to the long shallows, snail shells crunching under bare feet, the gasp of cold slapping thighs, minnows nibbling toes if you stood still too long and so, that breath-taking nose-dive into another dimension.
Eyes open underwater: clam shells pebble the bed, chartreuse drifts of weed dot the sandy bottom, and always, always there is that sensation of being known, hair streaming away, arms opening in salutation, one stroke after another, hips unlatching, every nook and cranny of flesh embraced in this something larger. We sink towards the deep, swim to the end of our breath, then thrust up to the sky, gasping, rolling onto our back, falling into the wet sky.
Rilke said our experiences were not enough: we must wait for them to distill, age into memory, travel the dusty netherworld of light and dark, a lifetime forgotten until one day the earth exhales and the sky gives it all back.
Once there was a girl longing to be a dryad, waiting for that moment her body would give way to something more fluid. Drunk on lilies, she’d sip at the milkweed, her head resting against a pillow of cattail, tadpoles darting through her hair. Above and all around: gull, swan, duck, goose, loon. All tempting her to contemplate flight, encouraging her to rise.