Trees at Dawn

for Simone Weil

In the vaulted spaces
that bracketed the trees,
I saw her body’s hollow,
shaft to thread of light
that bolts her to the firmament—

Trees, she once wrote,
are rooted in the sky,
seeing how they live by light—
Behold the brilliance,

its chiseled periphery, a halo
that obliterates the blueprint
of random stars riveting
night’s dark in place.


California Littoral


—wedding dress
satin, trimmed with lace
—a check for $1,800
endorsed in illegible writing
—a full bottle of Prozac
topped with cotton
—a microwave oven
made in Japan

The sand is a slack accountant who keeps
a cluttered ledger of losses and gains—

Perhaps in the surf
off the coast of Mendocino,
already breathless, a girl
slips out of her wedding dress,
long after she tells herself
it is better to be remembered
as the bride of the sea
than a landlocked wife;
or, perhaps in Cabo San Lucas,
someone else, a woman of means,
already a wife of many years,
does not want to be like the moon,
married to the inscrutable night,
so she tosses her moth-balled dress,
that molted shell of promises.

For whatever it takes, the sea makes payment—

In permanent ink, a check runs aground.
Services rendered. A debt canceled.
The price of a wedding dress. A ticket
to a moonlit place that wears
the exact gloss of a photograph.

So, this is romance, the oasis
in a desert of waves. Someone is
stranded. It takes a check
to get home, to leave it behind.

Without Prozac, someone is
someone else tonight.
In Mendocino, Cabo San Lucas,
the air is stirred, roused, turned
to sound—I, I—the sea comes in
to meet the bluff of words, do, do;
a man or a woman on the brink,
between sea and land, moving
like a ship secured in a bottle, forever,
in between.

I, I, the flares dim in the spray,
am, am still speaking as if
in tongues, Babel’s dust
churns in the current of tides—

and the Japanese microwave oven, bobbing
in the blues of breakers, remains
itself, on a passage from shore
to sea and back again.