OBLIVION: MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
By the sea it wasn’t bad. They’d learned not to kill
themselves with tire irons. Not to think of it
while children writhed in their arms.
The air was salt and we breathed it. To the old,
it seemed like food. There were fish
that wouldn’t die. Not even left to drown in air.
We bit down. Then the conversation
changed. Mornings were spent scrubbing
the beach. The black sand gleamed
and to me seemed dangerous.
Not something one could even clean.
But the hours by the water had rubbed off.
The place was littered with rusted
things: wagon wheels and rocking chairs
and gingham bonnets I tried to stitch and patch.
In the night while we slept,
the sea spit back the dead inside it.
Which amounted mostly to affordable lawn furniture.
Which bothered us more than we let on
watching another patio table roll to a stop.
Someone found a pine tree; we piled it all in its shade.
They would find me where I hid
and drag me back to the shore.
Little clots of light bubbled atop the water.
It looked like clear soda.
I tried explaining the concept.
Many of the surviving pedagogies were almost useful.
This happened less and less.
Above the water on the salt-crusted rock
I could see almost to the horizon,
another concept that went nowhere.
Floating in with the tide: a single bit of color.
They’d spent the day staring
at things like skulls and crock pots
and were sleeping their troubled sleep,
so I stole down to the water.
A green bottle bobbed in the pool.
In its mouth was cork and in its throat
what seemed to be a note.
They would never understand.
I threw it back into the romance of the crashing surf.