with a line by Rilke


Most nights as I walk the shore I gaze

at the festival of gulls and beautiful girls,

all with wings and places to go.

My mind moves like a cloudscape

over striped flashes of blood orange and beach rose.

I read the texts of the tideline—

the iridescent stones and seaweed,

driftwood and silt.

Against so strong a current you cannot

advance. And yet, we do.

And some days I watch a caftaned

woman playing trumpet to the outgoing waters,

some nights I meet a man un-digging his coffin

in the sand. Lovers and tough mothers, new-borns

with fathers who coo in Creole. We nod briefly.

Our pockets fill with dark chocolate kisses

and coins too few for the seaside bar.

What compels us from our houses

even during a pandemic to smoke

and swim and skate?

I look out in new bewilderment

with all the others watching

our bright failures, our sea-lit joys.