Almost 10 years ago, a colleague of mine took her own life. Her car was found parked by the ocean, her handbag and the keys inside. Her body was never found.
I wasn't a close friend; had never met her husband or children, rarely even worked directly with her. Yet, her death has remained with me, all these years later.
This is not the first poem I've written informed by her death. It will probably not be the last.
Full fathom five thy father lies
The gulf stream carries your clavicle
across the Atlantic. Wild grasses,
gentian, and orchids bind it
to the Burren near Druid’s bones.
of his bones are coral made
In the Caribbean sea, a thousand
zoantharia shape your pelvis.
Anemones fill your womb.
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
Your skull washes up one November
afternoon on Shelter Island, tumbled
smooth as beach glass. By summer,
buried in sand, it's home to hermit crabs.
Nothing of him doth fade
On the eleven o'clock news, your smiling
face beams into the camera. The number
to call scrolls across the screen.
but doth suffer a sea-change
After work on Thursday, you fill
the tank with gas, your pockets
with fractured stones, leave the car
parked by the sea, keys on the front seat.
into something rich and strange.
You study the ocean’s restless spring
and neap, unable to predict slack tide,
withstand its latest high water mark,
this perfect storm eclipsing your horizon.
(n.b.italicized portions from Shakespeare's "The Tempest")