I drew into me
a salt and bitter tongue that crested
and soaked the numb ladder through my limbs
and let you climb in,
rung after rung. I meant to breathe,
but I swallowed. And a world
that was spirit sang out.
A redwood eased her claw
on the window. I quivered.
Pulled off my knees, to slip outside the inlet,
where a foghorn groaned like an old cow
used to what was tearing through her.
Then fishing boats returning
to Noyo Harbor ahead of a fog bank
motored in, gulls’ erratic circles
twisting after each boat, saviors
in mast lines screeching for castoffs.
Across docks, passages filled
with men, ice chests, and netting.
A dog trotted through the parking lot.
Neon signs woke with blinking.
The quick agreement between tire
and metal grating on the bridge
above the harbor clipped and roared
toward town. Laughter and yelling
below. Light through cypress gaps
stung rooftops across the way.
A thrumming in my throat. Why can’t I get
to the door? The numb ladder through
my knees shook, and I tried
not to be a child for the last time.
The gulls soared. Heavy ropes knotted
around anchors strained. I choked
like a girl finished crying, mascara
and eyeshadow running from her gaze. I told her:
You are flesh, now bow. Uncross your legs.
Your curve is open bounty pleasure.
I kept my eyes closed.
Boats gulped against the docks.
The redwood drew her craggy notes
on the window through the fog.
I climbed her branches out.
I made my mouth pretend
to be seaworthy while the waves
washed in. I could not angle
myself into any further distance.
I stood outside and watched the moon
put her shadows away.