The way its seeming omnipresent gestures
hone to the corrugations of scallop shells,
sand dollars and sea glass, leaves me
deciphering the infinite one grain at a time.
So I step back. Watch sandpipers leap into flight,
skimming the wave that drives them from the beach.
Along the shore, in the cool wind of astonishment,
I’m stirred like the ocean after a night of storms.
Because its meaning is interpretive,
in the slow-growing sunlight, the gray water
slides into green. Gradually, I see
what seems like a miracle trying to happen.
Each moment tucks under the folds
of each wave as if it could gather
and contain all the necessary beauty
of a lifetime, carry it whole and onward.
In the instant of that funnel, before the breaker
closes, there is a remembrance of flowers,
a trumpet of morning glories in which my hope
is all eyes coiled in its collapse, following it
up the strand, ending in a string of seaweed
at the feet of gulls. The wonder of how they live
on the ocean’s scrolls by pecking at its perishing secret.
At the tideline, mussel shells glisten dark, tumble and flash.
Their nacreous insides, like bits of moonlight,
and all I wait for. Their black hollows clack and settle,
accumulating like fragments of night under me.
When I turn, I walk off into remnants of stars.
As the rain begins,
there is a moment when the tenth drop
strikes the window. But I’m not counting.
Every shower I’ve ever experienced
has had this moment,
the one I might have been waiting for,
smuggled in the multitude.
Each snowstorm I’ve ever seen
has dropped its third to last snowflake
and I didn’t notice.
Perhaps it was too far off
circling over a neighbor’s yard,
settling onto the pitched roof of an empty birdfeeder.
Or maybe it was the one that melted on my glasses,
beaded into a secondary lens
magnifying the light, bending it toward a secret
the way a camera filter divorces the image
from the world and its edges,
from the sharp specifics of something like a splinter
that can tear a shirt sleeve or catch an eye.
Trying to Read on the Bus
The engine rasps, almost as hard as the man snoring in the seat behind me.
Potholes shock the cabin, cause lights to flicker,
and letters on the page to scatter like synchronized gnats.
The woman beside me wiggles every few minutes, and apologizes.
I have to say, “No worries,” losing the thread
of the poem I had gripped between potholes,
and hoped to track home.
Not the poem on the page, but the one
behind it, its words so luminous they rewrite
the history of betrayals into song and light, so charged
with redemption, I turn and look across the distances
to you, beside me, jostled and lost
in a darkness I reach across to say,
“Hey, you have to hear this.”
Before you can say “no,” I recite those words
disrupting all the cellphones and iPods,
the road smoothes over, and all the ears on the bus
open into silence and a depth of hearing
so profound, everyone falls in,
and each of the private destinations
we call “home”
coil into a single point,
and we all arrive there
About the poet:
Michael Young’s fourth collection, The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost, was published by Poets Wear Prada. His chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, received the 2014 Jean Pedrick Award from the New England Poetry Club. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Chaffin Poetry Award. His work has appeared in numerous journals including Edison Literary Review, The Louisville Review, Off the Coast, The Potomac Review, and The Raintown Review.