06 May 2012


               Diane Blakely Shoat

Bones litter this grass. The moon grows
full and rises like my mother's eye,
though milk-white and blind as hers never was.
She knew my secrets: I remember waking
from a childhood dream to find her beside me,
her gigantic palm drawn back to erase
what I'd seen there and wanted to sail toward
forever, my mouth tasting salt breeze. Moonlight
streamed through our cave. Her breasts
shown white in the flash of her gesture;
I took the bright nipples for stars.

But even she's gone. I'm tall as my brother;
when I was twelve he set out in a ship
half as big as this island, crafted
from the timbers of wrecks. Gulls wheeled
around sails so enormous they must have thought
they'd flown too high, were beating their wings
against clouds. Some panicked and died
in the wind-tautened mainsheet; from short
I could see the shimmer of hundreds of feathers.
Halfway to the western horizon, my brother threw
a survivor to me, my feet sinking in wet sand.
Although I was still small, I heard my mother's
wails and knew I'd need patience, not wings.

The years have flown by, and Mother taught me
the folly of travel, a man's hunger
for something not home. I'm happy enough here,
counting my goats and each season's stars,
tracing maps in the sand and now dreaming
whatever I want. Other pleasures we shared,
one at this table. I've built a fire:
at dusk I watched a ship mount the horizon;
it will founder by dawn among rocks.

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