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
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
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
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
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
pressed between the lines?