If these are not the nights of empty hands,
if these are not the nights of dreams galloping
like gasoline fire over blue tar,
I wish you could see what I see
when I look at you,
I wish I could give you the country
in my skull, invisible
as the horizon I followed to your eyes —
an ocean mounting within, the foam
and drone of bile-black waters washing us closer
and farther apart, always both at once,
murmur of umber, bloodwings beating in bone.
You cannot see the waves breaking against welted shoals,
but in the rocking of our chair, maybe you hear
the whispering of the sea, biting acetylene,
or cries of tern and gull, brine-stung; maybe you hear
the uncaged waters gasping against hasp and hull,
bracken churning, scalps flensed from brine.
In your shirt’s rustling, I hear sailcloth in wind,
ropes lashed and pulling against the mast.
In our chair’s rasp against pine boards, I hear
the creak of oarlocks, a broken scull scraping against keel.
I hear spume soaking a bowsprit crisped with salt,
as I rock into your torso, my human shore.
Come nearer, nearer,
for I want to see what you see —
Light a lighthouse over these broken spars
dress me in burlap and tackle,
play on a streel of eelgrass plucked from the troughs of the sea;
charm me with bladderwrack and sole, comfort me
with a severed branch of coral, a fistful of wet wings;
sing to me of splintered driftwood and rockweed, nights full of sulfur foam;
lead me through the narcotic dark to a bed
of coats, your stubbled face grazing my throat,
for I want to lie with your eyelids touching my lips when I sleep,
I want to feel the bones of your silence pressing against my own.
I cannot see what you see, but I will paint you
a world in green, the color you most love:
I will weave you a pillow of aloe and flowering lime,
cut you a bed of wild ginger, causarina and bamboo;
I will make you a city where you may dance
on bridges and rooftops of air, where you may hear
green wind blowing across green water.
Because I can’t know how long the shore we make together
will hold, let me lie against you
before the waves we are wash us from each other’s arms,
before that stopless tide returns,
when we’ll feel the indifference of the sea.
suji kwock kim