VISITATION OF THE ELDERS AT CAPE COD BAY
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.