[a protean geography] i
A woman enters an ocean and stretches,
grows immense in the swells, bridging coast
with coast. Is she still
her body? an icon? the sea? Our new definition
for water or shoreline: soft salt lift-lilt fall.
Red ribbons an oak branch, becomes a lizard
skittering over stone, garnet that circles a wrist.
No, it is blue-
ringed with two clear-facet centers: gannet
eyes a world stares through, swallowed
so long ago it is now
impossible to remove. Listen: beneath skin
the hiss of a thousand cities’ glass-rinsed shores,
every step an intention
not to fall through earth, each face passed
a handful of questions we keep planting in sand:
come closer; stay
distant; I am going somewhere
you can’t follow.
Planted and watered with sea, we watch sky come
unpinned and lower its braids to us,
clasp them round our wrists and begin to climb.
Virginia Smith is an MFA graduate of Northwestern's Creative Writing Program. Her work appears most recently in Denver Quarterly, Moria, Southern Poetry Review, and Stirring. contact