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Names

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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)

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

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