after Denise Levertov
Liminal Sunday to which I’m coming back
Again, against myself—Feet are far behind me
And afraid of what I’ll ask. You know before
I move. You know the whole time at the shore.
The shunt and clatter of ships along a pier
Briefly solid. This place I’ll call, “Away”
Someday soon. No moon, and so no way
To watch the water stepping back
Through the splintered slats of the pier.
No room to move with so much of me
In the middle of all this, feeling the shore
Slide out from underneath. This was a song before,
Our thrum an intricate sonata. Or a net before:
Mostly meaning in its knots. But the way
You explain ships’ names makes me sure.
The certainty of a sailor’s turned back,
And the sea simpering beside me.
I am losing track of things and the pier
Can track this, leans into me as piers
Will lean and before
You can ask me
To stay in some way
That will keep me from going back
I come back. Just a shore,
One illusory, unreliable line. Just shore
That knows a trick: Ten steps back and reappear.
Undulating body behind a sailor’s bent back
Is what I’ll be, for
A while at least. The sway
Of your boat, not its name, where you keep me.
That Sunday, and you, had seen me
For so long. That Sunday facing forward from the shore
And its ships, unlucky she’s that clatter the way
Left women do. Beneath the pier,
An undertow that pulls towards some before:
Silk crescendo of its cadence down and back.
To know the ways you will be with me:
Black square of your back as you push off-shore.
Black square of the pier. Some great, dried dream of before.