The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
–Vincent Van Gogh
I left the House in the rain that erased me.
That’s why you can’t see me anymore. Why you gaze at the curvature of earth to catch a longed-for sight of the gray ship you dreamed you glimpsed—that left me bereft at this shore—where perhaps I may be saved. I don’t know.
The shipwreck, I shall tell you in confidence, delivered me back to the waves and the salt that would dry my skin in the burnishing sun.
I am so very sad and sorry that you miss me so much. But you no longer have to witness how I carry my disfigured heart, my raging heart pumping outside of me, a broken fist from a violent fight [with myself]—in my rough, cut-up hands across the galaxy.
No one told me any of this.
No one wrote these words in the parchment pages of a sage tome to place on the classical column as offering for banished gods [that still weep for us and all that we have regrettably done [to them and to each other]]—somewhere we are sure as the dust of my travels, the dust in my bleary eyes, my hanging mouth, my large lungs/ribcage; my broken lips, parched.
The ship’s pilot’s sextant and charts had been destroyed by the fire. Its dragon flames, goldfish orange, brilliant—pulled language inside out from me. The pilot mumbled about fractured stars while he looked past the night. His fear palpable to me though he hid his face when he gently covered me, like my father would, with a velvet purple blanket. I felt like royalty. I can’t explain properly, but I am intensely grateful.
I slept in softness in the calm before my birth before anyone knew me, asked of me. Except the shattered gods [because they would not help us when we called them to intervene, lessen the unbearable pain] that had thrown me down on the floor of the ship to smash my ________________; tear at my fatigue, my dress of cashmere [a gift before I was poor].
When I woke, the sun was climbing the sea’s horizon. There was sand in my mouth and pale turquoise sea glass. I don’t recall how any of it happened or how you should attempt to bring me back, find me.
It was deathly quiet on the island [and I couldn’t help but think of my death]—where the ghost ship brought me while I wept on the bow dreaming of my lost father; lost from my mother, brother, and me; lost from his lungs, lost from ________________; and fallen emerald trees filtering late autumn light with my dog [with broken hips and strong heart] put down under the mammoth red maple tree–where the needles, one at a time [while I looked away] found the appropriate veins.
Yes, it is very quiet here. The quiet of one gone deaf after one could hear. An emptiness without music or resounding church bells, another’s voice soothing the pumping heart—extracted for a funeral pyre. It is too hard to keep it, feed it, leave it alone outside my bruised sternum — thumping like a semi-crushed bird before it surrenders its feathers, over and over [echoes]—nothing real.
Days have shrunk into themselves, folded, laid down their awkward cards. The hours have become very small. Night is now a dress I wear; its sleeves stitched through my skin and its secrets.
I awakened from my underwater-maelstrom-tango with chaos’ sharpened whalebone teeth set at my own piano-wired jawline [the gods had done this to me]. Slimy seaweed on a spectrum from black to moss green knotted my wild hair—and still-sharp sea-glass slicing my ever-moving, muscular hands that longed to sculpt tangible things that would sing the Sirens’ haunting atonal riffs and shatter human narratives back to me that would pull me into the underbelly of love where I would no longer recognize myself– just a swirl of murky ink in the sea, lost from the beloved.
Orpheus, I cannot hear your glass lyre in the storm of the sea where bruised humans play shipwreck bumper cars—to act out, do something, hurt someone, feel something. On this shore of softest pulverized pearl sands, prostrate with my face up to opening clouds of sky—I’m waiting for thee. Come. The hours before sunrise stretch out and swallow me. They are long, and I wait for the emptiness to resurrect itself, spin me sublime.
Play the notes of my ribs broken in the shipwreck, my Orpheus—my whalebone corset splintered into my torso where I bleed out—in time—in your music that unfolds me into sea into sky into the lies I had to tell to keep my fragile sanity while those around me schemed to sell the country, drown my poetic lines that never end into a sea that never ends into a love that never ends with any certainty though with certain certainty we will surely die.