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skin, ocean - by Paulette Beete

1

are our bodies then simply
a braid of water & skin
grieving the silence
carried under waves

2

I can smell the ocean or maybe
just salt running off my skin

salt & my skin's memory of salt
my skin's memory of water

apart from the water which pulses
against it from inside

skin & consequence of skin
the weight of air pressing

down a simpler thing
than the weight of water

3

what is body what is water what is skin

4

& what is sweat but ocean
returning to itself
pushing out to measure
the weight of exhalation,
the ounces ascribed to loss

5

this particular beach
this sand made of remnants of shells
refusing to yield to be only

sand

this particular woman
combing shells from this beach
building a stack of

I used to be part of

6

the salt of the ocean is not a siren
not a call to begin

the salt of the ocean does not remember
the salt of our bodies

it does not miss us

7

& what about the woman on the beach
what is she to this?

Why does the ocean allow her
to think she can swallow it?

8

evaporation
or tiny fires snuffed out
even as mouths curl around
answers

9

Why does the ocean allow her to believe
it is built of rivers?

10

I will forget the weight of these shells
in my hands when they still belonged to the beach
when what they hungered was merely water.

11

Can an ocean bare its teeth
against your skin & not leave marks?

BIO: Paulette Beete's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Callaloo, Beyond Baroque and others. My fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Provincetown Arts and Willow Springs. Email: pbeetewriter@earthlink.net


A Salty Taste of Spring | Skin, Ocean | Going with the Flow
A Love Letter To The Ocean | Water Bearer | Best of Theme

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