Useless Islands

I’m trying to remember
what happened when love overtook me,

how the old self slipped
from its hard boundaries

like a ripe plum out of its skin.
It’s a personal mystery.

It was August, each moment
setting fire to the next,

the woods already
bloodied by the first bright deaths.

I’m trying to remember, but there’s
a blacked-out part of the story,

a steep, crashing wall of seawater,
a long thrill of fear. I was dragged

in an undertow as if out of sleep,
and the blue-green light I swam toward

was this paradise of islands,
these green days spilled

across a vast mercurial blue.
We lie in a flood of white sand

under the broken prism of the sky,
watching its fragile rays disappear

down the secretive avenue of palms.
How long can we lie here?

The luminous charcoal and manila clouds
cross like fish overhead

His hand sleeps on my thigh.
The ratcheted voices of the tree frogs

start up their random music,
and we lie listening. It’s a way

of passing more slowly through,
of dragging a stick in the water

like a brake. There’s the dull
clop of goats on the red dirt road,

and the lisp of the sand beneath us.
What the leaves were saying

back in the other life,
the palms are saying here.

It’s the words to the long slow sad
familiar hymn about the hourglass.

I lie beside my love
in the silence between two waves,

the grains of my body pouring.
I know the second wave will ripen

and fall. It will fall in a world
that is emerald and sapphire,

lit by the sparks of the sea. A world
that will darken and abandon me.

Chase Twichell


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