He slips from the tide as though out of bed
some lazy lover’s afternoon before he drowned—
sheets of foam half-folded across his wave-worked
thigh, up on one elbow in the backflow, mirror-blue
and shadows wash underneath his sun-strike smile
that dazzles and disappears, eddied with weed.
For its glint, I would not kneel in the waves
that idle around my ankles like fingers lightly
closed; I would not pillow my cheek on cobbled
shingle and sand for the mussel-black drip
of his hair; even for his eyes, luminous
as the colors the abyss makes for itself
when the farthest sun has been flattened to dark,
I would not open my mouth to the running tide.
But for his hand in mine, sea-cold, shell-smooth,
his fingers that clasp like barnacles to stone,
sargasso-rooted that not even typhoons can sway,
I will walk to the dry world’s edge: and for him
I will sing, that by nightfall we will know
whose heart will sink to shatter on the rocks.
Sonya Taaffe has a confirmed addiction to folklore, mythology, and dead languages. A respectable amount of her work has recently been collected in Singing Innocence and Experience and Postcards from the Province of Hyphens (Prime Books). She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Classics at Yale University and has trouble talking about herself in the third person.
Image: Miranda, Thomas Francis Dicksee (1819-1895)