Monday, June 25, 2018

Quarter-Life Poems: Maria and the Seal

Maria and the Seal:

The window
In Maria's kitchen
is left slightly open.
The sea wind
blows her curtains
like sun-filled ghosts
fluttering loosely
in the perpetual dance of the dead.

With each gust, Maria's home
disguises itself as the sea.
The smell of the salt and brine
the shifting echo
of an almost infinite body of water
moving closer
then further away.

From her window
she can see the ocean-
the pallid gray of whale skin
or bleached white by the noon sun
and sometimes bright circus blue.

In the mornings, Maria walks along the shore
collecting shells and smooth stones
She drops each beach treasure into her pocket
where they remain forgotten
until she hears them rattling
around in her washing machine-
soap and hot water washing away
the last bits of sand.

Maria finds the remains of a seal
lying on his bed of sand
surrounded by shells and stones.
It is the last day of summer.
The seal's plump body is swollen
limp and tangled
in thick ropes of seaweed
The decaying molecules of plant and animal
mingle together in the salty air.

the seals black eyes stare straight
up into the pale sun
the blinding rays fall like useless words
into the seals blank orbs.

Gnats and small flies land on the seal
buzz and circle
around his protruding belly and heavy fins
giving movement to the lifeless being.

Maria wants to kneel beside the seal
and check for the light patter of his heart
feel for a gentle blow of warm breath
just to make sure.

But, she walks past
abandoning the seal's body
to wash back to the sea
or decay on land
leaving behind
bleached white bones
covered by wind and
thousands of flecks of sand.


Maria dreams about the seal
swimming through murky salt water
his heavy body weightless
in the layers of water.
The seals low barks
sound like songs in her dreams

and underneath the seals voice
she can hear the steady thump, thump, thump of his heart
proof that he is alive.


2 AM and Maria wakes up
from the shore she can still hear
the thumping of the seals heart
she leaps from the bed
to peak behind the curtains
expecting to see the seal
alive after all
and heading back to sea.

Instead she sees a shadow
or a person,
his shovel thumping against the sand
the rhythm mimicking her own quick pulse.

When it is deep enough
the person gently heaves the seal
into the sandy grave
From her window
Maria thinks she can hear
the seals body hit the bottom of the hole.

Maria wants to go to the shore
so she can help the stranger
cover the seal with a blanket of sand.

Instead she watches the person
back arched
strong arms stretching
as he buries the seal alone.

Maria knows that when he is done
the person will drop his shovel
and walk back into the sea
he will disappear under the waves
where, either
he  will turn into a seal himself
or drown in the black water.

Instead he walks away from the sea
into the shadows or back to the street.

Maria hears the click and sputter of an engine
and the rumble of a car
as he returns to another ordinary life.

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