La Libecciata, by Maureen Alsop
It wasn’t the sun, but a lily— rays of Madonna’s heart spread beyond the ocean—not
Pleiades grid, not a generic death—he, a dagger like waves, rows his boat through dawn’s
tunnel, red-war kerchief knotted to his throat, and surrender’s white rag: a tourniquet
strapped numb to his shin as king tide breaks seawall to clay.
He leans into the coordinates, north as longing.
I was thinking of you as a saviour, for in the battle you found yourself in the small space,
found yourself alone with the second ghost; others turned their backs, and your
companions were sometimes spirits.
Still, beneath the water’s wake, your spine mimics sandbar’s profile, undulations shallow whip,
you, who he buried-- I have to tell you something.
Home was your memory of his hands-- you’ve had and have-- and take hold of
his fingertips the shore against the water quivers. So, to be clear be clear. No signal. It is a
flame enough, a sheen seen low upon mayday’s horizon. Time as a seaweed mirror opens
and sways as it sways, dips a double knot deep through kelp, rolls back buried driftwood
flames. Maybe you never wanted to tell what two married bodies claimed.
There is the moment the sea better tells and of the hands you’ve held and held.
Maureen Alsop, PhD is the author of four collections of poetry: Apparition Wren, Mantic, Later Knives & Trees and Mirror Inside Coffin. Her poems have been published widely including AGNI, Kenyon Review, Blackbird, and other; she is the recipient of several poetry prizes including Harpur Palate's Milton Kessler Memorial Award, and the Frances Locke Memorial Award.
This poem was written through a collective, collaborative engagement with writers Heather Bryant, Christina Cook, Marcia LeBeau.
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