Stiff tone of death
in every wave
what more can wave have
save perhaps a little love
Not in anger does the sea
fold to the source of its gray waves
the tired boy; not in hatred
does it choke him.
Before and afterwards a weight
breaks each wave, but not remorse
nor does forgiveness move the tides
to coax the shriveled kelp and barnacles,
the stinking whelks to trust
the sea’s embrace again.
We who travel with our feelings
can’t believe the sea responds mechanically
to the earth’s rotation or the moon
giving up another sliver every night.
White edging on the waves leads the eye
from horizon into shore, from rocks
to a plume of spray dissolving into blue
that prior to this breath
we were protected;
seagulls sang like doves.