Full Fathom

by Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham

& sea swell, hiss of incomprehensible flat: distance: blue long-fingered ocean and its
nothing else: nothing in the above visible except
water: water and
always the white self-destroying bloom of wavebreak &, upclose
roil, &
here, on what's left of land,
ticking of stays against empty flagpoles, low tide, free day, nothing
memorialized here today — memories float, yes,
over the place but not memories any of us now among the living
possess — open your
hands — let go the scrap metal with the laughter — let go the
upstairs neighbor you did not
protect — they took him
away — let go how frightened you knew he was all
along while you went on with your
day — your day overflowing with time and
place — they came and got him — there are manners for every kind of
event — he stopped reading and looked up
when they came in — didn't anyone tell you
you would never feel at home — that there is a form of slavery in everything — and when was it
in your admittedly short
life you
were permitted to believe that this lasted
forever — remove your hands
from your pockets — take out that laundry list, that receipt for
everything you
pawned last night — decide whom to blame —
stick to your
story — exclude expectation of heavenly
reward — exclude
the milk of
human kindness — poisoned from the start — yes — who ever expected that
to be the mistake — with all the murderers and miracle workers — with the hovering
fairy tales — kites, angels, missiles, evening
papers, yellow stars — clouds — those were houses that are his eyes — those were lives that
are his
eyes — those are families, those are privacies, those are details — those are reparation
agreements, summary
judgments, those are multiplications
on the face of the earth that are — those are the forests, the coal seams, the
carbon sinks that are his —
as they turn into carbon sources — his —
and the festering wounds that are — and the granary that burned — and the quick blow
administered to make it
painless, so-
called — his eyes his yes his blows his seed's first
insertion into this our only soil —
& the flower, the cut
flower in my
bouquet here,
made from the walk we took this morning, aimless, as if free,
where you asked me to
marry you, & the loaf of
barley, millet and wheat I was able,
as a matter of course, to bring to the table, fresh-
in life.

Last updated May 14, 2019