June 1954
I was conceived
in a shack by the sea,
its shingles bleached
and beaten nickel gray.
There were waves that day
washing over the foundations
of the old saltworks.
My father told me this,
his eyes the blue
of a still inlet after rain,

and I can imagine such a thing.
My rising like a cry
from my father’s throat,
breaking free of his longing
and swimming, all head and eager tail,
all salty, fishy human need —
I swim into the dark
and heavy egg of my mother.
This is me.

My mother’s eyes
were green as ocean weeds,
but I did not, of course,
see them open wide,
did not see the pupils swell
deep and black as tidal pools.
A blade of sea grass swirled
oblivious to the wind
heavy with the rank
sulfur scent of low tide.