It isn’t you, like Jeanne D’Arc on the pyre
but this space between us
that opens and closes, a foamed surf
that brings and takes away
light bits of string, paper, sea-weed,
pieces of other lives far away
There are storms, too
where on the morning after, the children
come running down, seeking
sharks’ teeth, driftwood, kelp-wigged coconuts;
may stumble upon an unidentifiable beast dredged
up from submarine canyons.
It’s this space between us
burning like salt-impregnated tree-trunks,
blue flames, unexpected pops,
plaintive hisses where the fire
draws out pockets of hidden moisture;
streamers of smoke and embers,
a confetti cast over parades of returning heroes.
The mass is consumed,
this space between us –
encircled by charred bits of unconsumed branches
broken furniture, a disintegration of solid substance,
leaving a mound as fine as flour
a mother’s enfolding in butter, sugar,
“can I lick the spoon?
can I, the bowl?”
From this ash persists,
still defines a brow and forehead line,
burns lightly the corners of eyes.
Further down the beach,
your daughters dance beside you, dragging
provisions and sacks,
or you’re off swimming, or holding the tiller
beneath sails, out there, somewhere.
On a sea wall a creature’s carapace abandoned,
found shells and beach glass, toys briefly,
drop from one hand to the other,
clicking syncopation to distant, blinking stars.