Sand Flesh and Sky

By Clarence Major b. 1936 Clarence Major
Our ropes are the roots
of our life. We fish
low in the earth,
the river beneath runs through our veins,
blue and cold in a riverbed.

When the sun comes up,
the moon moves slowly to the left.

I tie the logs and limbs together,
holding them in place.

The ocean beats them
smooth like rock.
Here my sense of time is flat.

I find in a strip of damp sand
footprints and marks of hands,
and torn pieces of flesh.

Night is a beast.
The tide moves, gushing
back and forth.

Sunlight touches our faces,
turning us, turning us, turning us
in our morning sleep.


         1976

Clarence Major, "Sand Flesh and Sky" from Configurations: New and Selected Poems 1958-1998. Copyright © 1998 by Clarence Major. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townshend, WA 98368-0271, coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Configurations: New and Selected Poems 1958-1998 (Copper Canyon Press, 1998)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Clarence Major b. 1936

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Time & Brevity, Nature, Sports & Outdoor Activities

 Clarence  Major

Biography

American writer Clarence Major "has been in the forefront of experimental poetry and prose," Eugene B. Redmond writes in Parnassus. "In prose he fits 'loosely' into a category with William Melvin Kelley and Ishmael Reed. But his influences and antecedents are not so easy to identify." Perhaps best known for his novels, Major draws on his experience as a Southern African-American to "[defy] the white-imposed 'traditions' of black . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Time & Brevity, Nature, Sports & Outdoor Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.