The water off these rocks is green and cold.
The sandless coast takes the tide in its mouth,
as a wolf brings down a deer or lifts its child.
I walked this bay before you were my child.
Your fingers stinging brightly in the cold,
I take each one and warm it in my mouth.
Though I’ve known this shore for years, my mouth
holds no charms of use to you, my child.
You will have to learn the words to ward off cold
and know them cold, child, in your open mouth.
Source: Poetry (May 2005).
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This poem originally appeared in the May 2005 issue of Poetry magazine