Light's Tricks

The sea is ripped green paper
and I am full of longing. Sometimes the sun
is netted and distended on the waves,             
held there like a shivering coin.
Sometimes it’s a disc of ruched taffeta,
or a small sweet tangerine.

I’ve never been much good at swimming
but I can keep myself afloat. Further out
the sea’s a tabletop of green marble.
A friend invited me to swim and I said no –
too cold this time of year. Truth is

it’s not the freezing temperature I fear
but leaving these comforts behind –
a woollen jacket, gloves, strong shoes;
the giving-up by degrees; loss
a necessary measure of whatever thrill
might meet me there.

A child learns it’s not the Sun that moves
but Earth. How do you get your head round that?
Fact is, you don’t. You give yourself away
to logic, graphs, and an adult’s wiser words.
I think the heart might be like this.

I’ve loved another man, and then another,
and the drowning and the flight were almost worth it.
Everything has its tipping point. Earth tilts
on its axis and the sun with all its fizzing gases
tilts too, in its own way. Even the green paper
does not sit entirely flat at its torn edges.

The sun has crept from that fin-shaped dip
to the lower headland and its twin face on the sea
has shifted with it. Everything has its place.
Even the tiny fishing boat bobbing out there,
anchored by its shadow, will be steered back
into harbour at the end of the day.



(published in The Moth, autumn 2019)

Copyright © Sharon Black 2017