It’s only a photo
but I see myself standing in this place.
I didn’t know it at the time,
but I was on my way to somewhere else.
I was certain that I was as rooted as the rocks,
as limited as that small boat in my range of places to go,
in the thoughts that I could have.
I was the island.
Bounded by unmeasurable seas.
My beach slipped away below,
A gradual slope into depression,
gray thoughts cowering under gray skies,
saturated with thinking,
a religious madness,
as naked as the rock.
If I was the changeable clouds—
but I was the clouds,
blown out to sea
by forgetting how firmly
I had stood, once.
I could be the smoke of a forest burned,
I could be the hesitation in the way I look at a woman,
I could be the rain itself,
the god of this place,
dissolving the land,
salting the sea.
The memory of water.
I am the rock—
yet the water
that my shoulders slide into…
water has drained this place out of me,
so what ghost stands at the fulcrum of this photo?
sniffing at the kettles full of kelp saturated with salmon roe—
but that is the other place,
and the ghost there is not figurative
but the price I paid
to believe that I was more than death,
as gray is more than black.
I found all the destruction I’d done,
all the destruction that had been done to me,
and I gutted them on the rocks,
I watched the blood of that birth
like the rain into the sea.
I see it flowing still,
in this photo,
the wind disturbing the surface of the water
but not nearly as much
as my feargreiftearsscreams
taunted the wind.
I was in this photo for love.
I came there to possess it.
But love escapes into the sea,
eager, ever, when;
and lovers? Cry not; only
answer to the wind.
Here is a link to the full-size photo on Google+ by Esmé Ann that this poem is based on. You must be a Google+ member to see it; ask in a comment if you’d like an invitation to join.