03 April 2006

Dave Smith

[from Little Boats, Unsalvaged by Dave Smith]

Most epithalamiums don't merit the ink, but here's an exception.

Oyster Beds

             On the marriage of Lael and Hunter Eley

Wicked, I called them, ridged shells soft-folded, tide-shifters,
clingers to white dull walls of homes I could never live in, so

I thought. Then slipped among the inner rooms of shells, heaps,
pier-holders, little joists, sepulchral cities of families, quiet’s

blizzards of tiny fish, too, feeling’s shapes, edge schools
that pump and nudge and woo the eye that falls upon them.

These seemed easy to understand, crowds of dreamers in blue.
But I had no taste for what dark gouged, slurped, raked, beds

of lumps like saltwater foam some god commanded to be flesh.
I knew what they were. One in summer light opened on me.

Where it lay in water’s bed, sunning, I walked, not warned.
Then the white of bone slipped out, my foot’s blood flowed,

teased stain of me large, mysterious, that left on us surrounding
touch like a first kiss. Mud shone as if torched that day. Skins

of sails cut the harbor to a room, bobbers left shoes, watches,
rings, near-naked in light, walking sand, knee-deep flirting it.

For you I’d gone forth. Now I heard old words: come on, heart,
give the thing your try, blest are willed-together ones, sweeter

opening, and chillest tides strike seed. I walked swallowing in
your uplifted loving face, by marsh and hill, lying nights alive,

rivulets of salt scaling us, life’s mouth wide. We knew it. Gulp,
you said, it’s good. We would eat, be whole together, then rise up.

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