It took me a long time to find the words for how much this boat trip changed my life and the way I looked at it. I’m glad I was able to before John’s death. He carried a copy of this poem in his wallet; I didn’t know until his belongings were returned to me.
Morning After Ocean Song
Early-riser beard scurfing across my skin,
You wake me just after sunrise,
Leave suicide-scratches on my throat.
I want the world to be different when I open my eyes —
Stripped of all its meanings for me to dress
In the colors behind my lids.
That never happens, does it?
It’s the same world; we’re just different within it,
Waking together knowing things we didn’t yesterday:
How our bodies slip and interlock,
The mysteries we hold in our hands.
I’ve seen the poet in you now, the one
I’d have sworn wasn’t there at all.
Science has its muse, too, and if you’re singing
Of the sea and not the stars, she could still have
Kissed you in your sleep some night years ago.
Abyssal creatures in chelated shells
Send up bubbles through their eternity of water.
We breathe their sighs.
You scoop a palmful of ocean, hold it
For me to peer into a soup of green flecks
Dancing like breathless-spots before my eyes.
It starts here. Tiny shrimp eat this,
Fish eat the shrimp, dolphins eat the fish,
And you try to jump off the bloody boat after the dolphins.
Interaction, interconnection, system, and flow —
You reach toward it with the scrubbed hands of science.
I reach from the other side with stanzas and Tao.
Where we touch, our fingers pass through it —
As they must — and it transmutes our desires.
Sex in all its possibilities has bumped and ground
Between us all day. But now I want to make love with you.
I see the same desire looking back at me from your eyes.
Startled as dolphin-scattered mackerel, we leap apart.
Sunset brings us together again, sharing
A backrest of heaped cushions, a beer,
A murmur of good music turned low.
The rising night breeze is your hands on me;
My whole body is aware of you.
You kiss me and I ride the crest of you
Until you turn me under, an amateur surfer taking a spill.
You surge into me, shape the space
Inside me by how you fill it. We reach across
From our opposite corners:
Meeting, retreating, meeting again.