Shoal­wa­ter

New England Review - - Table of Contents - An­ders Carlson-wee

Waves grind the shore­line and darken into pools. Crabs shuf­fle side­ways, lost in the washed-up eel­grass. Seag­ulls spit lit­tle­neck clams to the rocks and don't even eat the shat­tered bod­ies. They fly as high as the clouds and wrap talons in the wind. But this kind of love isn't rare. When I dream about my brother he dis­ap­pears if I look. He wears a bird-bone bracelet, but I only know this by feel. Even his hair is some­thing I imagine. His nose oc­curs solely as con­tours. I walk down the beach and throw stones at the on­com­ing waves. This is the best we can do. We leak ev­ery time we are opened. Out just be­yond the waves, love says the same of it­self. We can only wit­ness the im­pli­ca­tion, only feel for the shape. Love is a pi­geon nes­tled be­side a dead pi­geon at night in the wet cor­ner of a ware­house. Black­ness and the tex­ture of feath­ers. The thud of a body sur­rounded by hol­low. Love is a clamshell's first touch against rock, what­ever ten­der­ness can be found in that con­tact be­fore the crack. It's been years since I was last out on the wa­ter. The night sky tight­ens like that fa­mil­iar mouth. Clouds hide their bulk on the back­sides of is­lands. Each wave is real the way his body is real. Made of some­thing not it­self. Some­thing big­ger. Call it wa­ter. Call it wind. Call it ten­don-flex­ing of the moon. Each wave lifts as he lifts, crashes as he crashes. Love ex­ists in the way seag­ulls hold still in the wind. The way crabs carry pieces of clam through the moon­light and van­ish side­ways into sand.

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