Every Second Must be the Duration of Something
Begin with light slathering the eel grass
and the horizon, a wide what-if.
I mistake a buoy for a fin, the row
of washed-up dead squid
for a pack of cigars. I mistake
that tinny song broadcasting
from a patio loudspeaker
for a prayer. I inhale hot
sand, iron and wrack weed, musty
as my mother’s old purse.
How many times did I tiptoe into
her dressing room where she’d left
her beige leather clutch, click open
the brass clasp and dig beneath her pack
of Spearmint gum. Tissues, blotted pink.
Open her wallet. Wade into that
murky bottom, steal a sea-green bill
with the creepy pyramid eye on the back—
that eye, my friend Kay told me,
was the eye of God, who looked down
on me and saw my every wrong.
A cormorant lifts, wings heavy as hips,
flaps low and away.
The long breakwater trims the sea
to blue hedge.
A hermit crab trawls sandy bottom,
shuttling food into its mouth,
sucking in whatever
it can reach in the shallows—plankton,
seaweed, dead things. I pick up
its scavenged shell, from an inch away
so lush with algae it might as well be
a hillside, glistening and green.
Wendy Drexler’s third poetry collection, Before There Was Before, was published by Iris Press in 2017. She’s the poet in residence at New Mission High School in Hyde Park, MA, and a programming co-chair for the New England Poetry Club. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlanta Review, Barrow Street, J Journal, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, The Mid-American Review, The Hudson Review, The Threepenny Review, The Worcester Review, and the Valparaiso Poetry Review, among others; featured on Verse Daily and WBUR’s Cognoscenti; and in numerous anthologies.