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Invitation

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Come in, come in. The water’s fine! You can’t get lost
here. Even if you want to hide behind a clutch
           of spiny oysters — I’ll find you. If you ever leave me
           at night, by boat, you’ll see the arrangement

of red-gold sun stars in a sea of milk. And though
it’s tempting to visit them — stay. I’ve been trained
          to gaze up all my life, no matter the rumble
          on earth, but I learned it’s okay to glance down

into the sea. So many lessons bubble up if you know
where to look. Clouds of plankton churning
           in open whale mouths might send you east
           and chewy urchins will slide you west. Squid know

how to be rich when you have ten empty arms.
Can you believe there are humans who don’t value
          the feel of a good bite and embrace at least once a day?
          Underneath you, narwhals spin upside down

while their singular tooth needles you
like a compass pointed towards home. If you dive
            deep enough where imperial volutes and hatchetfish
            swim, you will find all the colors humans have not yet

named, and wide caves of black coral and clamshell.
A giant squid finally let itself be captured
           in a photograph, and the paper nautilus ripple-flashes
           scarlet and two kinds of violet when it silvers you near.

Who knows what will happen next? And if you still want
to look up, I hope you see the dark sky as oceanic — 
          boundless, limitless — like all the shades of blue in a glacier.
          Listen how this planet spins with so much fin, wing, and fur.

Source: Poetry (January 2017)

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This poem originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Poetry magazine

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Invitation

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