Remember, Sister, how the ocean was her first love—
a tattered hemline skirting sand, the hard shove
of the moon? Hers was a baptism of salt and sinew
and undertow. That’s when we’d discovered she floats,
unspooling me at the edge where I’d waved her back,
mother-cord looped around her slippery ankle. I am still
without a net, you see. Mercy, but it took me some time
to gather a rosary of baby teeth from beneath pillows,
humid with the small breath of dreams. Did I mention
how, years later, she surfaces from time to time like a
Hallelujah; her toenails painted in abalone or the asphalt
pitch of balding treads. In her rear view mirror, one eye
precisely inked in velvet; the other, a compass
flailing. Those alms, she admonishes, speak of nothing
but wind. Or was that you, Sister? Wasn’t that you?
Tell me, can you spot her from your God-perch,
your vast heart rolled out— a sticky field of benedictions,
your harp stung fingers shuffling the stems to croon
a litany. What I’d meant to confess is if I’d had
an anecdote for the world and its random cruelties,
I would have spooned it into her mouth like angel
food cake, like armor. Little girl with her plastic purse
and dandelion sun, ghosted into a drift of porous stars.
Her dimpled cheek, a match strike. Throb is a cadence,
don’t you think? Even the dusty moths scorch their way
toward machined light as if wings were another language
meant to be cindered— all the better to divest her
secrets. O Sister, obtain for me the grace to be tender
when combing out the clouds tangled in her hair, patient
while unpuzzling the graffiti still wet beside the gate
rusted wide. She’s right; inertia hurts. I’ll search for you
both in the incense of wind chimes. At your altar, please
accept this fistful of kite streamers. They’re all I’ve got.
Praise song for the fine arc of yearning. Amen to gravity.
To those civilized trails of breadcrumbs in a fairytale
wood. To the stubborn foothold of hunger.