We have taken the children
farther out to the sandbar
so we can all stand
thigh and waist and belly deep
beyond the break of the great
lake's waves before they settle
themselves on the beach.
Your friend's elderly mother
sidestrokes around us.
Her white swim cap breaks
the green plane of waves again
and again. She wears blue goggles
and her speckled skin like a creature
born to the familiar waters.
Out here I should love the deep
but do not. I want instead to take
the children back to warm sand.
But we've drifted and lost
the shallow way in.
You make it, somehow. My son
is watching the grandmother
roll her head to breathe,
as she cuts her way across
the waves, always rolling
away from the incoming surf.
I cannot breathe. I hold him
tighter than he likes. I do not
tell him my feet cannot reach
the bottom. He says he is not
scared, that he sees the shore.
The Young Biologist on Her Honeymoon Ponders the Origins of Life
It starts, either way, on a beach,
with a finch in one hand
and a pair of shoes in the other,
a pair of very fine shoes hooked, each
over a delicate finger. White sand
settles in the pale, creased leather.
And the finch, his tell-all beak,
pecks the graded-crease of your palm
where you have gathered
her like a souvenir of your weeks
in the islands. She may calm
down, her brown feathers
warming under your touch.
You will have to stand
here with one another—
you and your bird seated
in the cup of your hand.
Who brought you together?
To know, you will have to speak
certain words, make demands,
and then learn to tether
everyone you love to the earth. Sleek
male finches demand
you free their lover.
You throw your shoes and they flee,
yet you raise your left hand
and open it. One flutter
and this sign you desire to keep
but release, becomes evidence,
not specimen, not tamed, not a prayer.
David Wright has poems forthcoming in Nassau Review, Sou'wester, and Tahoma Literary Review, among others. His most recent collection of poetry is The Small Books of Bach (Wipf & Stock, 2104). contact