Sketch of the ocean, with white highlights at lower left, possibly indicating a rocky shore.



Again an oriole has hung her nest 
among the cottonwoods just 
farther north, and soon
inside the Baltimore hotel 
where my grandparents stood
as newlyweds big horseshoe crabs 
will scuttle over the lobby floor 
while high tide laps
through busted
window frames and doors. 


When the north wind came down 
out of the cedars
onto the bay
the boat turned slowly
as the needle of a compass 
does in the palm of a man 
turning to find himself
on a map.
Far down, under a sky without a moon or stars, 
when the dive light failed and the current
along the wall of the reef gained force, 
he turned to find the lights of the others 
gone. Things in the total dark, even
his own hands now, seemed hypothetical,
and deep inside the ear the velocity of his heart.

Image Courtesy of the Smithsonian Open Access . Winslow Homer, Swells in the Ocean, 1895.