At Seeing Nothing Is Lost

SALVAGE

~Liam McKinnon

 

It was a shipwreck at the edge

of the world

on a shore of mud and stones

where the tide pulled out so far,

we thought it would slip off into space

like a rolling sheet slipping from the bed

you never made.

 

We spotted it one summer day

as we climbed the grassy dunes,

tilted on its side like

a decaying whale with

bones of wood and mold

betrayed by the ocean’s unspoken spleen.

 

You called out “Race you there”

and darted down the slopes,

surprising a procession of

mourning gulls who had gathered

in musical lament.

 

I watched you go, moving like unchained passion

in a wild dance with the world

as indigo clouds ballooned on the horizon

and the sea birds you had chased

formed white haloes for you.

 

When the faraway sky split in two and

unleashed a thousand winds

upon us,

you threw your arms up in welcome.

With the rain matting your hair

you flashed a smile at me that

made me wonder

if I could ever make you feel

so alive.

 

In the ship’s rounded hull

the wood had splintered away

to offer a doorway within.

You took a step before taking my hand

and led me into the damp

tunnels of the whale.

 

 

We ascended rotting ladders into

a slanted room with broken

windows that let in sea air and

the sigh of breaking waves.

 

You searched for discarded treasure.

I , for forgotten letters

in hidden drawers

from a stranded sailor to his wife,

who would learn the meaning of forever

waiting on a distant shore.

 

But all we found was sand and feathers,

ruined books and crabs

hiding along the shelves.

You said the jewels and gold

had all been pillaged,

and though the secrets had been erased

it did not mean they were never written.

 

In that room I got to taste salt on your lips

and feel the fragility of your bones

Rock against mine.

To look in your eyes and find a storm

and to learn the love a heart

as free and untamed as yours

had to give.

 

Finally at night, when the rain

settled and the tide returned

to caress our lonely ship and make of us an island,

we climbed up onto deck

to find a map of stars stretched out above us

and swirling galaxies in the mirror below.

 

As you looked up I turned to

watch you

being held in silence,

the pools of your eyes

filling up with that immensity.

 

How many times I tried to

reach you through that space

but your mind remained a sea

of constellations

only you could sail.

 

Way back then, I never thought I

would one day look upon you

like that shipwreck at the edge of the world,

lying on your side, on the shore of existence.

I never prepared myself for the strength it would take to

hold your absence in my arms.

 

How I wish I could so easily

step through your broken hull and

climb ladders into the chamber that held

your soul, to open the drawers

you never showed.

 

Maybe there I’d find a letter

or a scribbled note in a Cola bottle

you had thrown into the sea

to tell her about us and the lives we drew.

 

If I could salvage the thoughts you once had

like untold fables of wonder,

would I ever come across

my name

pressed between the lines?

salvage____a_poem_by_liam_mckinnon_by_seb_m-d8icm8o

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