The mountains slipped into the smiling
sea at dusk, allowing summer houses
on the shore to go first, their motion lights
blinking off and on like fireflies—then came
the sliding of the steep and shallow,
letting go with a last, sweet tug from gravity,
and with such gratitude, the way you might
sink into a chair, bone-tired from the strain
of holding it all together. No presage—
as if we needed reminding of the rootless,
swaying world we dreamed, built, and burned,
all at the same time—no thoughts or prayers,
no braying bell for any who might have wished
to leave, or to witness (as I did, almost
by accident) when I climbed out on deck,
frightened by the pitch and roll and
—weary of her tiresome guests—
the ocean chose to start over, with mud.
Day-darkness creeps over the porches,
thunderstorm approaching from the west.
We rush to rinse our brushes
at this disturbance that feels a little like sex,
moist fingers circling our necks. We wait
for lightning’s bite, for petrichor, for gardens
and senses to be inundated, clinging to one another
like tendriled peas to thirsty stalks.
Weather races across the sky until
there is nothing more to shed, nothing to hold,
no muscle where tension hides. Undone
by the frenzied moment, the sheets of rain
and the now-empty cloud, the tousled heads
of cloud and man and what they contain,
all that turbulence—wondering whether
it was for love or thunder that we tangled.
S.B. Merrow grew up in New England and lives in Baltimore. She is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Everyone A Bell, published by Kelsay Books. Her chapbook Unpacking the China won the QuillsEdge Press chapbook competition in 2016. Her poems have appeared in a number of journals, including Salamander, Nimrod International Journal, Passager, Panoply, The Courtship of Winds, Naugatuck River Review, Gyroscope Review, and Free State Review, and she has published essays in The Flutist Quarterly, a trade magazine. In addition to writing poetry, she restores and repairs concert flutes for professional flutists.