Prehistoric

By Claire Malroux Claire Malroux

Translated By Marilyn Hacker

Whitecaps surge in from some infinite distance
Rocks, grottoes, clay stridencies beneath the storm
Amalgams of sea-wrack and brownish moss
Each tide pushes forth its flesh-antennae
The persistent squid stretches its arms, wave-crests
Cave in, everything gives way to sand
Which silently drinks up the acid, cold red sweat
Those children launched in assault against the waves
How could they turn their heads
Back toward those who've brought them this far
To be taken even farther in their turn
They passed though the crowd, laughing
Or crying without telling the password
They've passed, the ferret runs and runs
Memory, the battlefield nurse, can barely
Triage the rarest ones
Whose heat shifts at the crater's edge
Yet they give our trajectory
Its dreamlike depth: the whole chain
Coils up in our smallest cells
And in a lifetime time annuls itself

Source: Poetry (October 2000).

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Nature, Living, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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