Sea So Still I Believed I’d Break It
As if lightening had struck its glass body whole,
as if we had reached its cold, molten core.
Seaweed at the shore, your loose hairs,
from when we bathed here like the holy ghost,
dancing beneath, unseen.
We say we want to know it more, more.
At seaside we watch to see if god hides.
I ask, do you hide? As if your molten center
were an empty glass of wine I could hold
by the stem and rock between my fingers,
The mystery would be that you respond.
If ever in the world I were to know you
fully, I would hold you by the bowl
and not the stem.
Likewise, when we found you in that
fragile sea, the mystery was not your hiding
but unclothing, your naked spirit
stripped before us—
And we were more unknowing than before.
They say smoke follows beauty
when you’re coughing,
bleary eyed in it.
To counter the acrid taste
of char in the lungs, they say,
smoke follows beau-ty!
They came to my yard
to write poems by the fire
where I burnt old papers.
I remember little from that hour,
though I say I don’t believe
in drunkenness. I was bleary eyed in it.
I remember watching the moving stars
while they talked about British stargazey
pies, with fish pointed heavenwards
stuck in the crust.
that when they talked about menopause
I said loudly, I forget I have eggs.
I remember because I wrote it down,
thought it would make for a beautiful poem.
I am loose with the word beautiful.
In the morning
I saw smoke hover above the dew,
between the house & the fire pit.
Following beauty, probably.
Add it to the list of
things I call beautiful.
Things I call beautiful:
The mother skinning her apple
at the table, then letting it
sit naked atop her coffee mug,
cold & browning.
The floor full of apple skins,
the naked fruit, leathery now.
The bottle bending in the fire,
orange, till it cracks in five places.
Even the waterfall,
which everyone calls beautiful
while they stand beneath it,
bleary in it, cannot be held.
Drunkenly trying to catch
beauty like dissolving ashes
in the smoke. The love of it in-
distinguishable from the failed
grip. Still, smoke follows.
The tuft of smoke hovered
hours in the yard, bleary in itself,
& I believe it was waiting.
Firecrackers in the streets and a sultry haze over Harlem. I call it morning squeezes, how when I wake I feel thirsty and when I drink, known but forgetful. Remember the man on Essex Street who thumbs through apricots all afternoon.
The coming of the kingdom of God will require. Someone embroidering someone’s face, something that can be folded. To be full of forgets, who chatter and play campfire music around the spacious skull. Though you can only tell the truth
from familiar landscapes, or maybe a smooth charter bus. A woman on the street corner yells, yes or no! yes or no! yes or no!
What is this bright, unruly grief? This heavy morning heat. The way I want the land to know me, see my body as something with a finger on it, mapped and hills. My forgets were the ones who brought you here, in felt pen drawing what the other person sees.
Now a picture hanging on my wall. Now is something that can be torn.
Someone embroidering someone’s face / something that can be folded
Tom lying on my couch talking about his favorite extinct bugs. How he’d like to be the doppelgänger of someone dead instead of living, like Genghis Khan, or someone without a painting. Something about mammoth husks. New York water is not kosher
but is clean. Outside a sunflower patch with my head in my hands I say Tom I am weary of facts. Figs grow through fence holes and persimmons fall just out of reach. You are made of these distractions, what we call losing the thought.
At the clinic they flush seven gallons of saline solution through my eye socket to remove a speck of dust. And this is how I kiss you: narrow enough.
Standing on a cement bridge overlooking a church garden, Tom asks, at what point have you wanted God so long you have him?
Saints fill with rainwater at the scalp. This is how you commit: a river
running into a well. I have so long fled it with you
I am there.
At what point have you wanted God
you have him
Here we are this opening so thickly in life. She sits on the park stairs telling strangers she has never seen, you look as beautiful as yesterday. The body is first a sound — if it were not so, your shadow would be much smaller.
My grandfather is dying and his jaw unhinges further than it did before. If you can’t spend twenty dollars or all you own on this present touchable time, how will you have space in your hands for heaven. He asks for a sandwich, calls the deli cashier god.
Sky / the exhausted emptiness that makes us visible.
He lifts his dinner roll to the sky.
Changing the underwear of her old love. Oh, the body is more than tightness! Scats his fingers down her arm like the neck of a guitar. Deep below, moving soil turns itself over like bed sheets. And you are there, though we have lost
our form — she laughs from behind the bathroom door, pulls his pants up and down again, wiping clean his spread from their tile floors, only to let him empty again.
Practicing poetry, to me, is interwoven with practicing prayer, so much that they have started to feel like the same thing. I define the two in similar ways as well — both employing the art of following something you can't quite see or hear or really sense at all, sometimes to a place you can't predict, and somehow becoming more yourself in this oblivion. That all being said, I am a Christian who practices meditation and contemplation daily. Many days, it looks less mystical than I'd hope for, as I mutter my thoughts to myself with my feet dragging dirt across the wall next to my bed, spilling coffee on my chest, but these experiences of prayer are equally important to me.
Sarabeth Weszely is a writer and singer-songwriter currently based out of New York City. Her poems and essays have been published in Bomb Cyclone, Mockingbird, Earthwords, and a 2017 Iowa Poetry Prize chapbook, I talk to God out loud and we call each other Babe.