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Second Visit to a Tide Pool
Nickolas Daniel Jones
From Spring cotillions where the wine is iced
And girls in dresses laugh at boys with red faces,
She runs to the tide pool by the sand-nibbled boulders;
Tide pool—strange elixir of life; marbled ecosystem
Where bioluminescence miraged by spilt starlight
Erodes the earth she once knew by a familiar name;
She watches starfish eat—gangly arms colored rust and lilac
That liquefy around mindless mussels blooming on the rocks
And intensifies her thoughts of his smile, hunting for bravery,
The night she was lantern fuel and he was sheets of netted tulle.
Pool water ripples push away the quilled ink of octopus
While a cephalopod beak poking through the silt smiles
Beneath the salted refraction of the moon—quivering lines—
The octopus lip is messed with a curl of clam’s tongue;
The moon glint on the watchful window of the house
Obscures the hour hand and the metronome-click of the clock,
And for a moment in a night familiar, it is any time at all.
Anachronistic memories that shaped scarlet happenings
Unseen by the timepiece standing on grey carpets;
The kiss she stole from him, while her fingers stroked the water,
The kiss between rifle powder and hyacinth flower.
But the wary dowager claps the closing ballroom tap,
Distracted by her own time, passed, in the wetness of ocean’s lick,
And by a boy wishing he could watch the starfish one sigh longer,
And by the octopus carried back into Neptunian antiquity;
For the hour of ubiquity is now one minute passed—
The hour of end and beginnings, morning and middle night,
And the trail of close knit footprints in young flight—
Her salt water touches the salt water of the infinite abyss
And with two minutes nearly spent, she simply must return.
To prevent pleats, a mannequin now models the dress she wore,
And she, in her pajamas, whispers-out the candle light
And dreams of phosphorous sparking white fabric into dust.
Before, her heart hung like a bruise
between bent ribs. Breathing, quietly begging
for firm fingers to pluck her strings. Words lost
in the echo of that cage of fading
paint and birdsong. Her lungs sore
from standing still among dead whispers.
Before, she kept only the moon’s whispers
for comfort, a cold crow laugh to bruise
stranger’s ears. Always, there were sores
from her plucked feathers begging
for a balm. Tucked behind her faded
calcium stars, she hid words for loves lost.
Such second place lovers come home to loss,
at night feeding the walls their whispers
to quiet the ache of their faded
fingerprints. Theirs are worn and bruised
from years of begging
love to make a home out of bodies sore
and overflowing. This girl is a sore
wound from the waist down. Her pride lost
to the tide in her eyes, between thighs begging
to be pried open by you. On the train she whispers
about birds and silver rings—never the bruises
your hands would not allow to fade.
She’s the one keeping them from fading
now, listening to recordings about sore
women soaring over bridges. The bruises
keep time with their colors, seasons. Loss
eats her dreams like fruitcakes, whispering
decay up that weak spine she once begged
you to kiss. Each vertebrae a pearl begging
to be unstrung. These days her voice is a faded
wail. She cries in mourning, whispering
to spiders and licking the dust your sore
form was made from off the window sills. Lost
and locked away inside a birdcage bruise.
The moon drinks her saltwater, and she begs to be sore.
A faded sea-foam tongue in tatters, a few lost
whispers eaten by thorns. What a ruse, this blooming bruise.