Dear ocean, I am writing you
in response to your last question
——–made mostly of erasures.
——–I want to say in the language
of erasure, I do not know
where voices go when they die,
——–how I was born to misread
——–a note of yearning in your give
and take and the land pulled back
in the clash. The other day
——–I read an email from a stranger
——–who hopes I will find my spirit
in hers, her essay on transcendent
earth and things that will not die.
——-If you have read it, help me, please.
——-I am lost. I am, as such, sending
a note of thanks to my stranger
over the cold expanse of you,
——–over the here and there of water
——–that speaks, always, of its own
form, given, taken, erased.
From one ocean to another,
——–tell me, what is this redemption
——–uttered in collective urgings
where people forget what has been
called back and, in prayer, forgiven.
——-You and I know forgiveness
——-was never about forgetting.
I grew up in an ocean of voices,
a leviathan space that chanted
——–on earth as it is in heaven,
——–and there was flint in the earth
where it struck the great hereafter.
A cradle on fire with stars and music.
——-When I think of transcendence,
——-I think of my mother with her box
collection, the diminutive click
of a world finding its place
——-in the world. In the ocean.
——-I think of all I could not do
to save her, to answer to the tired
summons of I hurt that broke
——-down into incoherent pieces,
——-returned, embittered, to where they came from.
Madness is no ocean, no box,
but the anima of one that grows
——-ever larger in the other.
——-Take this nightmare where it opens
on an empty room at night,
the windy motions of the lids
——-in prayer. Forgive me, I say,
——-without knowing who it is
I talk to when I talk alone.
What I do know is this. The forms
——-of appeasement remain long after
——-the pretext of a fall. Once
I fell. And my mother said, I’m sorry.
And what I heard was the lonely
——-back and forth of you, dear
——-ocean, the hush and reassurance
this emptiness and us will come
to terms. There is another earth.
——-It is an ocean in a box
——-whose waves wash over us like hands.
There is an earth that cannot die,
says the earth that does, and strangers
——-whose letters to the world cross
——-over the impersonal deep.
Forgive me, I say, transcending.
And you, my destination. Forgive.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.