Poetry by Jael
sometimes nothing
by jael bietsch

and sometimes a small Jamaican ocean
can span ten years abstinence
sugar cane and dusky skin
on the surface, we'd wade through dawn
to see a moon--how many days
unrising--the setting
sun brilliant flashbacks after midnight

barefoot in rock pools half-expecting
the depth to rock the surface, space
or ten years time tamed wild out of the wind
and they come to me tentatively
sometimes I have to dig for shells

into your ocean, you scatter
shards, unceremonious scraps of colored glass
off the end of the pier and wait
for the sun, and sometimes nothing,
in how many ways unrising

five of us with the dog running
the length of how many beaches
counting the same wave slapping
down the length of the retaining wall
spray rising respectively to fly
small explosions over eroding concrete
wind so heavy we lift our arms
as if we could become gulls across the sand

our last day in Jamaica
the bottom crashed the surface
and I crouched in the sand, staring
hard with my heart as if I could pound
into memory the coarse drain
between my fingers, the sun over water
uprooting shells from another age
ancient crustacean harbored under glass
as if shelving ruins brings them closer

landlocked today
like another age of being away and
parking lot seagulls that aren't
even that much
wheel and cry over this concrete ocean
I'm as much
out of place as rooted as these lost gulls
and sometimes wonder if my ocean
cries as clearly from there as it does from here

and sometimes ladybirds
migrate and die frozen, scattered
and glistening in the sand
and frozen at the end of the pier
you with your arms lifted, scattering
glass the color of blood
faith promises your ocean
and the friction of time
rub smooth sharp edges

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    © 1995 Jael Bietsch

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    March 8, 2000