Tide of the Century
Gravity fastens itself to each ankle
& pulls me from my bed, to the window.
Across the street, a small boy clutches
an icicle. Fluid leaks from his palm.
In the fog-dense evening, he’s an eclipse
of reality. Somewhere in the U.K., water
rises in an estuary, & I’m afraid it will
never stop. Is there order here? Can we
protect it? My grandmother was cremated
& my mother, hating the notion, sealed
the fireplace & buried candlesticks
in the garden. My father offered, Maybe
we don’t have to die cold. Place the word
trust on your tongue—does it dissolve
like a pill? Can you swallow it whole?
The ocean swells. With the surge comes
a crash—I’m afraid of falling. I’m not afraid
of heights. Each night, I ascend towards sleep
then slam against my mattress & explode.
I sit up. I fuse myself back together. Remember:
memory is a sundress hanging at the edge
of darkness, & death is nothing but
a bloomless sky. But the danger of being
swept away is not up for debate. We know
there aren’t enough spotlights to track
the rising tides, & if truth is what can’t be
unsewn from the stars of a flag, then honesty
is this boy in the street, clutching an icicle—
which is really a shard of glass. Blood seeps
from his palm, & what I thought was fog
is really two thousand snow geese, falling
dead from the sky
Jenny Boychuk’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2016, Salt Hill, The Pinch, Prairie Fire, Room, Birdfeast, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she is currently a Zell Fellow.