This little stretch of life

(from the letters of Elizabeth Bishop)

There are sanctuaries small melting snowdrifts here and there – an atmosphere

easy to crawl into In one of those intervals where all thought has ceased I am tempted

by waves the transparent sea I think my heart beats twice a day – a very slight

ailment I’ve tried all approaches – aerial and subterranean – I am mixed about

like a drop of oil on water. This place! This pile of masonry! Accumulated

stray objects – you can get right under clutching like a gasping mermaid

no view to be seen Have you ever gone through caves? Things

just seep through the walls I don’t imagine anyone could hear me

howling I am one of ten thousand or whatever it is

who are lost each year In a minute or two I know I shall forget Excuse

my disconnectedness – I must go see what everything is doing

– these things on my shoulders are not wings

from Slant (Shearsman Books 2016)