Walking the Boards

We speak in waves
over particles of breath,
briny breathing,
this boardwalk holds up
more than it will tell.

It’s the simple words
in solid greens, gray blues,
the color of sand after it rains,
it’s these that endure
in the moon’s wake.  Without

a single word, we still could
talk as we walk,
tide coming in,
using the language
hidden in the dunes.

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Nature’s Bethel

That she could define the sacred place inside her architecture of breathing,
that she could steal her father’s Old Head cave—naturally programmed
with thick Irish grass to cushion vistas of the Irish Sea—
that she could claim even one piece of rock as her own
to build a chapel for her own non-conformity,

would be her attention to structure,
would be her proposal to the world,
would be her physical presence
inside a hallowed ground where there are
no lines, no dimensions, only

the exquisite knowing of a spot
where she, like seamen before her,
would go. She would go
to rest her body, to forget it, to uncover
in the rubble of Earth’s design,

souls lost, souls renewed,
a storm pushing so many
waves into the cave, etching
its remarkably evolved design
no human hand could replicate.

Imaginary Isthmus

A citrus hangover on a humid spring
Sunday leaves her certain

she can smell the lilac bushes
on an island she used to know. What if

a bridge of land appeared above
the white caps to graft it to the cape.

She would still take the ferry. Would still hear the almost
in peninsula. She would still believe

in separation
over creation myths. And still want
to build her hotel

for pariahs on the clay
cliffs overlooking that wild
side of the Atlantic.

Channels

This is no Big Sur, Dingle
Peninsula, Wasque—
this is somewhere

in the middle. A river
that has starred
as the main character

in novels, caused cities to be
built, become a final stop
for the tormented

and despairing. It is a river
that should be frozen
by now. That only its fringes

cutting against its banks
are covered in a thin sheet
of ice is another story

that needs to be
told. And I’m no narrator
for the fresh or salt.

Surreal Ocean

Tide rises from all sides—this surround
won’t bring back my father’s words of advice.
In a dream, I refuse to walk along the granite bluff
with my sisters—this is no return to Ireland. This is

what gets made
up before dawn closer to the Mississippi
than any hint of salt. Pastels
on sleeves—watercolors in the sky—pollution

at dusk—can’t have a January
thaw without a frozen
plain. A surreal ocean
comes to mind.

Mosaic

As he disappears
behind a mountain, she sighs
a sigh weighted in sadness,
in regret, in relief. As she remembers

each step they took
toward the bluff before night blanketed them
in desire, she sees a gull
on the rock she had reserved

for them. No longer a them,
she turns her back
to the ocean—no longer in need
of more salt.

Mississippi Privilege

A companion piece to vintage
postcard greetings, she says hello
to the big river. A swelling

to the brim, this year’s crest still won’t surpass
her expectations—no spilling over downtown
banks. On her ridge

a mile west, she pays
better attention to new lakes
as they make appearances

at street corners. She knows a flood
is no mean fate. Sand bag
preparedness may suffice

here. Oceans away atrocity
continues to rise beyond
calculation and mashed-up time.