Names

By Peter Munro Peter Munro
If the sea is a cathedral, a tide pool
is a chapel. Sculpins dart under the wind
that blusters their cupped oceans.
Sculpted by wave on rock, their pockets of salt
grow thin from the rain, the suffocating
fresh water. Sculpin and hermit crab and limpet
endure the sea's absence, the lost comfort
of constant temperature, while the unconceived
sky drums the roof over their pooled world
with litanies of unbreathable torrent.

Christ, I have no praise for you.
Beyond saying a vodka-wrecked troller
and shacks the color of the desire to die, beyond
saying predatory snails that glide on their bellies
like the penitent, flexing their borers,
beyond saying seraphim that bicker exactly like gulls,
the shells that are my ears
sing no psalms except I can name
many small creatures in the world of a tide pool.
Christ, have mercy on all things that drown in air,
I have no praise for you. I say the tide:
Tide!
Tide!
Tide!
I say: Ebb!
Flood!
Ebb!
Flood!
I always start with "Ebb!"
I always end with "Flood!"






"Names" is from a sequence titled "Hard Weather Prayers."

Source: Poetry (January 2009).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2009
 Peter  Munro

Biography

Peter Munro is a fisheries scientist who works in the Bering Sea, the Aleutian Islands, the Gulf of Alaska, and Seattle.

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Faith & Doubt, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

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.