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SOFT AS THE TINGLE OF

SOFT AS THE TINGLE OF

 

 

         Crash of surf!

            California cliffhouse,

            Raw redwood

            On high ivied stones,

         Wet rock and spray.

            A man and a house

            Alone.

 

         A cloud thick sunset

            With smog distorted colors,

         A whispering sea breeze

            Drives in the late afternoon fog

            A rippling white wall . . .

 

         Rough wood stair

         Snakes up cliff face.

         Broken shells

            Like your promises

         Litter the beach.

         Twilight rushes in on winter feet

         Treading the chill sunset airs.

 

         Sand chafes inside

            My trunks

         as the memory of you

            Chafes my skull.

         I stare up to where cliff house windows glint

         And stare back,

            Empty.  Like me.

 

                               . . .Drifting by on

                                Sea breeze wings,

                                She came to sail

                                But only sings--

                                     Of you.

                                  Seaside birds

                                 Choose to fly,

                          Sunset colors dance in sky--

                                    For you.

                          Breakwater, tidal pool . . .

                      Mermaid wearing sea-green jewel . . .

                             Merchildren having fun

                                 Cast their nets

                                In noonday sun--

                                    For you.

 

         Today, I swam out to the rocks

         For solitude.

            You were heavy on my mind.

         At the rocks I met an ancient sea elephant

         Who had also come for solitude--

            Were you on his mind too?

         I sat in the sand today and

         Drew a picture of you.

         I wrote you a love letter in the sand . . .

         Watching the tide carry it away

         I wondered if it would reach you . . .

         I couldn't help thinking of the old Pat Boone song,

         And how we were

         Wrong

         And Right

         And why you won't be in

         My cliff house tonight . . .

            Raw wood on high stone,

            A house and a man

            Alone

               Alone

                  alone . . .

 

                              I've trod the length

                               Of this briny shore

                            A thousand days of more.

                              I've turned o'er each

                                   Tiny stone,

                              Read the runes carved

                               In sea-beast bone;

                              I've talked to mermen

                               And to whores . . .

                              Opened all the doors

                              I thought would lead

                                     To you.

                        But, you're nowhere to be found.

                          Are you in the ocean's sound?

                                 Where are you?

 

         I see your face in everything--

            You've touched me.

         How could it be

         That we were living a lie?

         How quickly do false hopes die?

         Why won't you

            Stop

         Looking at me

         With your face in everything I see,

         Whispering

         With you voice

         In the tide, the wind, and the sea?

            We shared it all . . .

               Leaves on trees,

               Colors in the sky . . .

            They weren't mine or yours

            They were ours--

               Now they're hours . . .

               Yes,

               You've touched me.

 

                                    Perhaps,

                          A thousand lifetimes from now

                                I'll still recall

                             When your laughing gaze

                             Broke through my haze,

                          Indian Summer night in fall;

                                     And how

                                 A love was born

                   That rose to greet a wave swept morn . . .

                               Your face so sweet

                         Delicious with love and wonder,

                                    As we lay

                                Naked in the sand

                           Beside that enchanted bay,

                     A sea shell starship in your hand . . .

                         And how we laughed all that day

                      Naming each other with names of love

                                 And laughed on

                        Into a thousand days beyond . . .

                      And how we looked to the rocks above

                        And how we vowed to build a home

                          With a private beach to comb

                                 And every tide

                             Would be a lover's tide

                            For you and I alone . . .

 

         How quickly do false hopes die?

         How long do the memories live?

 

         Today

         You whispered to me from inside a shell

         I raised to my ear.

         I left that shell on the rocks

         With the sea elephant

            What lies are you telling him tonight?

 

                               (Apostrophe to a Sea Elephant)

 

                                                "The rose you sent

                                       Bloomed this morning--

                            I suppose it will wilt soon ...

                                       It sits here beside me

                                          On my vanity table.

                             I watch my arm and hand absently

                                       My small fingers touch

                                           A broach, my brush

                                  Lipstick, a bobby pin ...

                                            There is a mirror

                                              Here before me,

                                But I avoid my own reflection

                               As I stare at your photograph,

                         Taped to the upper left-hand corner.

                             It holds forever that masculine,

                            Animal-hungry smile I loved ...

                                         Or maybe still love.

                                     I wrote you again today.

                                I said, again, I'd like to be

                                                 Your friend,

                             For us to share a social circle.

                                    Not lovers, just friends.

                                             Do all ex-lovers

                                         Eventually ask this?

                            Behind me Chicago sunset darkens.

                  I hear my mother coming up the stairs ...

                                               I know I won't

                               Mail this letter either ..."

 

            Cliff house

            Alone

            Black silhouette against twilight sky,

               Against my life.

            Raw redwood on dripping stone . . .

            The fog rises

               To engulf the house,

               Obscuring me.

            I retreat back to my house--

               Even the clock tic

               Is thick

               With you;

            And the hearth rug asked for you,

            Recalling your nakedness,

            Soft as the tingle of . . .

 

                                  21 Jan 79/1 Jun 81

         

 


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