November 2, 2023

Message in a Bottle to Arthur Sze

                                             —After Sight Lines

What lines
that you were warned
against crossing did you
cross anyway, to find
those honey crisp saplings’
still-blossomless nubs
brimming with the sugars
of springs to come?  

All that you witnessed there
now flutters in me:
A descent of pileated woodpeckers
in an old-growth maple grove
rustles inside each electrified cell
inside my solar plexus—  

           so racked am I with wanting

           a sea urchin’s wanting—

          rasping amidst the arctic corals
with my five teeth for algae or bits
of an invertebrate’s sloughed-off flesh—

           that wants to be the rising pearl
of breath a submerged hawksbill turtle exhales.


If Poet    is who you are    
in this life     spinning
with tropical archipelagoes,
highland deserts,
cargo ships,
drone strikes,
Japanese beetles assaulting rosebushes’ pink-gold blooms,
yearling ungulates nosing for morels at the feet of tulip poplars,
yellow garden spiders on their zipper-webs,
moss-slurping banana slugs,
crustaceans scuttling toward the surf in seagull-shadows,
orbiting satellites,
crocodiles hunting in the mangroves with the sea’s inland rush,
virtual currency
& scat the red fox left by the back fence—

          then who could I be
but a devil’s purse
the tide washed up?

I hardly know
how to call to you
but know
that I could trip over
the singularity that is
nested in the banyan’s
garbled roots

           & still never know
why nothing I see (or claim to)

is as certain

as the world
& its symphony
of your seeing;  

as the x
where all parallel lines meet;

as a castaway’s nowhere beach.  

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