Our own names heiroglyphed upon the pearl sky,
my wife toasts each loved one, tonight’s list

too long, her hand grazing my leg, her lilt a plume
of color against the ash-bright light. Last night,

yet another message: an uncle’s breath dispersed
like last particles of twilight above the frenzied

EMT’s. The tide tires itself farther out into
the sheening. It seems all the elders are afloat

in morphine, my wife’s mother gone days upon
my aunt’s last breath, the once-commanding

substance of their voices, their bodies—as if drained
of matter, imperceptible vapors distilled in air,

all that essence infinitely falling to earth.

When the phone’s noir note announces another
group text, the heart knows to ground the shock

before the soul fibrillates. But I’m talking about
my greed, of course. How many more days

do I get to enter the spectra of my wife’s voice
now that we’ve advanced to next-in-line? I stand

alert on the cliff deck thirty feet above the beach.
Soon she walks out upon the sand, then dives

amid the silvering, shrinking west a hundred
monochromatic yards from the surf line. Calm

breath. Calm breath. Then, all I can see: The bodiless
arms of a million tiny breakers grabbing for the surface.



Kevin Clark has had poems appear in Prairie Schooner, Georgia Review, Hotel Amerika, Epoch, Poetry Northwest, Crazy Horse, Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Iowa Review, Antioch Review, American Literary Review, and Southern Review. His recent book, The Consecrations, has been released by Stephen F. Austin University Press. Clark’s second full-length volume, Self-Portrait with Expletives, won the Pleiades award and appears in the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Series, distributed by LSU Press. A first book, In the Evening of No Warning (New Issues), was selected for a grant from The Academy of American Poets.

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