Register Thursday | June 27 | 2019

Watching the Ocean

A poem

You arrived that night in a shimmering slate-blue suit,
a linen-rayon weave that still smelled of the factory,
and that, depending on how and where it rumpled,
showed a silver-whitish, semen, salt-lick sheen.

And all who dropped your name in conversation
as if they knew you, were suddenly quiet about it;
they could only watch how you moved from room
to room, restless in yourself but still at ease,

watch and wonder how—even as you grazed the buffet
for sea-salt chips and a foaming glass of 7 UP—
you commanded such attention, reverence:
all felt in the presence of someone magnanimous.

But better from afar, you left each one you met
feeling smaller, undermined, like a bureaucrat
before sublimity, like a connoisseur of porn
reviewing videotapes of his daughter’s delivery.

And even those who subscribed to the ideal,
who wished to be scoured of conceits, scattered
like crab claws, like lost bleach-bottle buoys
and massive main timbers on an isolated beach,

found that they did not care for the experience.
Hence their tales of other nights and other parties,
of gale-force winds that blew without warning,
of houses left with not a stick unbroken.