- Shearwater, and Anemones
You were given feet but had never touchedthem to earth. You were given the seaand you fed upon it for months.
So when your head crowned, ashenwith loss of blood from the cordwound tight around your neck,
and when they cut you from me,and you were silent, and the tide in mereceded, I remembered the shearwaters
following the ship—the slow sweepof them riding the wind’s current.The stretch of them, hovering,
cruciform, shearing the air the way an envelopeslides back into a box of letters, makingits narrow space. I had watched
from the stern for hours their trailing:as if stillness itself drifted toward me.I thought it was my life.
Then someone lifted you up,and there was a sound,and they laid you on me, breathing. [End Page 135]
Earliest memory: leaves of the olive treefluttering, the light coming through,then not, then through, then not—
My horoscope advises me to avail myselfof the mystery —and though I’ve never been a believer, thoughI tie my shoes to the leg of the bedin case of fire or quake because I won’t givemyself to such fame
—still I can’t help watchingthese anemoneshere in the tidepool, swayed by water’swhim, waving their many tentacles,no direction, no intention— [End Page 136]
Rachel Richardson is the author of Copperhead (2011) and the forthcoming Canticle in the Fish’s Belly (2016), both from Carnegie Mellon University Press. She recently received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and her poems have appeared most recently in Michigan Quarterly Review, Texas Review, and Birmingham Poetry Review. She lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.