Together we learned
how to undo
the sad songs the gulls
had woven in the air, an
unraveling like unwinding
a shaft of wheat, how
peeling back the husk, the taut
skin, revealed the pearled
berries. We learned to read
the widening rings
of water, echoes of movement and how
to time them—anticipating their
disappearance into the margins
of the marsh, the grasses.
You showed me a walnut shell—brown
and smooth as a belly, calligraphied
with streaks of black, hollow
as an unlocked safe.
We slept in the shapes of shells—fan
folding over fan—hugging
patiently as water. The tiles in your bedroom
are the color of clay, the color
of dried blood. And yet
somehow there was no
warning for the trouble made
by the moon, that shifting
body—how the tides narrow, how a wave
rises and builds, curling
upwards, which is to climb towards collapse.
A water flute closes on its own
throat. Wise one, what happened to make you
so afraid of me, and before—
so afraid of yourself.