On the bottle-lined beach the
pine trees lift their skirts. The sand
shelled and sea-slick crumbling from
each tiptoed trunk. Every year
the river eats more of the island
and leaves behind more hollowed
reeds, more jellyfish corpses.
In every poem you cast fiddler crabs, marsh
grass, sun-flashing minnows, one perfect
Once I sliced my foot like a mango on an oysterbed
Once I climbed a clay-orange cliffside & used torn roots as handholds
Once I pinched the back legs of a blue crab to avoid his barnacled claws
and knew unflinching that I would outlive him.
Miles away from the May River I rock in a bathtub,
salt-soaked contact lenses kaleidoscoping a redlined map:
ten years’ time, the coast swallowed whole
and don’t we deserve to go with it
dig our heels into a bank of pluff mud
the hungry graveyard nourished by crabshells
and fishbones and now me, submerged
spartina salt marsh swaying underwater
while gilled crabs bubble and sidle
across the flooded city sidewalk.