Out here in the tide-pool rush
I twist my thoughts into sea-caves
where emotions hide, trying
to pry them loose, poke them
into open air where
cormorants, hawks, sea stars, otters
might attack, pry, gnaw to the bone
leaving only dead shell.
Breakers twist fingers of foam,
smelling of sardine.
They are my desires.
They lull me, lure me
with songs of uterine bloodswell
singing me to the safety
of a cormorant’s cry, of my daughter’s exalted cry
as hands pulled her
from her first ocean
and now I see these emotions
clustered like gooseneck barnacles,
gray grapes ready for the plate,
and I know what I’m feeling,
have felt this half year now —
watching my mother growing old,
limping on her plastic knee among her roses —
is fear as ragged as these waves
torn by clusters of tor,
that she may die before I know her
as I should, love her as I must.
by Paul Totah
March 31, 2000