All night the rain unmoors the deeper waters,
layering coastal rocks in glacial crayon.
Lazy barnacles are toothy lips sucking
light years from the galaxy, swallowing
the wholeness of time.
I sit here circling the rings of a knotty tree trunk
whose life drained in these waters: 1910,
the poem an object to lug around,
the planet a boot print in soils of war.
5 seconds, the flash keeps time in my head
until sea spray returns my body
to the chill of original air, the rolling cart
and placenta bowl.
They didn’t call for rain,
the forecast was pleasant, light
showers, fog in low-lying areas, a night to ponder
the motion of things, the doe harboring her fawn.
5 seconds and
the harsh lagoon of a life refusing to be your own,
like science class when every circle became a series
of straight lines.
5 seconds keeping time in my head,
keeping time, the water’s cradling palm. Who leaves time
behind? The coffee was too hot perhaps, or the popcorn bag
had fully risen from its grave. 5 seconds is immortality
like the body draining its dreams into the ground
until a dreamer comes by and lives in them.
This driftwood is my grandfather in the flooded foothills
of southern Ohio, or the ghostly statues of a world-war
memorial, rifles aimed in the fog of reason.
The rain lifts sudden and clear, a blade of grass
swivels like a girl tossing her hair in the sun.
-Janie Elizabeth Miller