"The Long Marriage"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Aug. 24 2004 9:05 AM

"The Long Marriage"

Listen to Jeffrey Skinner reading this poem. They could not believe their luck—sunlight all the way down, lighting rocks lodged in the sandy bottom as if from within. Each rock angled just so, by some immense but casual intelligence. Rock weed held out its dark green fingers, waving. How can the water be so clear, and full of salt? In between their visits someone had removed the used condoms and shattered beer glass from the concrete cubicles, the breakwater fronting the old factory. The olfactory, he said. She did not see the humor.

One moment love-stitched to the next …

At the beach a group gathered around the harbor seal who had hauled herself a small way onto the shore, waving an aristocratic flipper in the sun. Can't a mammal have a bit of privacy? She knew the feeling. The vertebra he plucked from the sand and showed her proudly was smooth, and cleanest white. But she would not have it in the house. Be happy you are alive and moving, she said. Bones belong in the sand, rocks on ocean floor, and mercy in the great, shadowy hands of the indifferent one.

Jeffrey Skinner's latest collection of poems, Glaciology, will be published early this fall.

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