Drowning Stains the Ocean Gray
Lord, everything I see survived,
thrived, and suffered before I was alive.
I know you’ve tried to dull the prick
from claws, wash white
the blackest feathers, sever moonbroch
from November. I’ve surrendered sleep
to rummage through your world,
pearled myself inside this mollusk of an earth.
Praise be to you, or the gales
that scattered seeds for a chance
to grow. Do they know nothing goes to spoil,
that pulp is pressed to paper where we scribble
useless prayers? Do they care
that their trunks are hollow hives, and we the bees
drowning in their honey when we die?
Glory be to you Father,
or those crouching amaryllis flowers ignoring
church-bells as they root themselves in Hell.
Gold for you or gleam for me,
whoever loved him more. I store within myself
the fever and the cure—And I need
so badly to believe
that you’re my God and you reside
in everything: the multiverse and empty space,
down to every carapace,
parasites that nurse in dust. But whenever I assuage
my thirst, feed away my hunger, sex,
you leave depleted, leave me
needing more. And whenever I apologize
for slamming heaven’s door, you raise, devise
another room for me a million
miles wide. And every time I say his name, you bruise
my throat a little more. And every time
I start again with no one but myself
to blame, you add an and to another and,
and another and again, until you’ve derived his breath
with crooked calculus, plotted
and squared and added again, until you make
the man I loved appear among the dead.
Keep your ands and I my yets:
you can mold a simple heart to beat
in every chest, sew hair to scalp, sky to lung,
and make yourself another man.
Yet cuticles, cartilage, all spinal cord and spleen
will not explain his silhouette darkening
my fantasies. And tonsils, teeth,
spit and cum, lymph and chemicals might be all
I am, yet all the ribs and mandibles won’t make you
understand—he did for me
what you never will, what you never can: he drowned,
which means he once was real; he touched
the gulf and every whitecap kneeled.