Grounded in Memory

11 July 2020

By Philip Kuepper

(for Michael)

The indigo sea lies along the shore,
oozes blue between
rocks’ crevices.
Pieces of boat lie
split, splintered,
to which seaweed
clings like hands.

What voyage had the boat
been ripped from?
From what sea?
Certainly not a sea
like the sea today,
that lies flat and thick
as a sheet of card.

Closer to, I feel the sea.
It feels like felt, not card.
I could pin things to it,
a felt boat, perhaps,
and, to that, felt
sailors adeck,
hauling in felt fish.

There is indigo ooze
all over my hands,
elemental ink from a well, primordial.
I wipe my hands on my jeans.
I lean against the shoulder
of a convenient rock
barnacles have colonized
I am careful not to disturb.

I am taken in by an optical illusion,
so much so I reach to touch
the wall of the horizon
that appears that close,
so indigo is it, indigo as the sea.
It is as though the sea has been
drawn up into the sky,
the blotting paper sky.

And I?
I have the sea’s ink on my hands.
Out, out dark ink.
I do not want to be absorbed
by the sky.
The wood of clouds has just moved.
I crave earth beneath my feet,
earth, where memory
is allowed passage.

(8 May 2020)

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