Long ago I was the vision you needed,
image soldered in the mind’s furnace:
girl awaiting your arrival,
watching first light lacerate the sky.
You fancied the sea
a playground for your dreams,
but storms have entered you
like sound enters the skin of a drum,
changing its course.
After years adrift, you return
wanting to know how I exist
apart from you and your myths.
Husband, I learned to bear rupture
by staring down dawn,
to weave as daybreak
split open my rib cage.
Tomorrow when you leave our bed,
the sea’s call already filling your ears,
you will find fishermen
hauling in nets, shimmering fistfuls
of fish with bloodied gills. Listen to me:
raise one flopping creature from the rest
to inspect the arc of its dying;
see how struggle inscribes itself on air.
Then say a prayer. Offer a blessing.
Acknowledge your power
to deliver from your palm
whatever life pulses there.
from This Strange Land (Farmington, ME: Alice James Books, 2011).