It is the surface that wavers,
gray gone green as bubbles rise
and then the explosion,
big-winged New Englander
falling hard back into sea.
Back home, you daydream
whales in your landlocked life,
plan to travel. Desire
leaves you beached and longing.
Some nights you swear you can smell it,
the salt, the harbor fog.
Even where you are.
Even in the heartland.
It is their breath you remember:
that hollow phuff, the scent of fish.
There’s a place where the land
curls round, surrounded
by sea. You dream this,
wake with a salt tongue.
You wake with a salt tongue,
abandoned. You give
yourself to it, the abandonment.
There was a promise,
a sharp taste in the air.
There was a lowering sky
and a diving for shelter.
You woke to it, the door
blown off its hinges, the dream
you were held tight inside
burst to shrapnel. You
whisper the taste of her name.
It is her sweet breath
you remember, how it warmed
the pillow, how it rose.
You love this place the way you love
someone you always know is going
to betray you. It’s going to break
my heart. You become seasonal
but you return, still love how fog
wraps round the masts of ships.
Somehow the fog makes everything closer.
It sifts through trees, breathes out over the harbor.
You study the maps of disaster,
the evacuation route, graph the time it takes
to flee a busted levee; you imagine what
could happen here, slowed only
by the breakwater, its slick dark stones.
Anyway the names are changing
year by year: so many summer people,
condos shuttered for the winter.
You wonder if you know the place anymore.
The notion of home begins to rise
like a vanishing plume,
burned off by the late morning sun.
There was a promise and a reckless surfacing.
There was a terrible flood.
There was a life, yours, that would never
be the same. There was joy:
how it broke into you,
robbed you like a bank.
There was the night
you walked till midnight,
watching fog roll in and soften every line.
There were boats moored in the harbor.
There were lights on every one.