The sun has fired my face to terra-cotta.
I wear this cast from his kiln all over the house.
But I cherish its cracks like those of blue, wrinkled water.
A furnace has curled the knives of the oleander,
gnats drill little holes around a saw-toothed cactus,
and a branch of the logwood blurs with wild characters.
A small stone house waits on the steps. Its white porch blazes.
I will write down a secret being passed to me by the surf:
You shall see transparent Helen pass like a candle
flame in sunlight, weightless as woodsmoke that hazes
the sand with no shadow, if you wait long enough.
The skin that peels from my knuckles is like the scurf
on dry shoal, my palms have been sliced by the twine
of the lines I have pulled at for more than forty years.
My Ionia is the smell of burnt grass, the scorched handle
of a cistern in August squeaking to rusty islands,
the lines I love now have all their knots left in.
I leave my house open to a wind that has no shoes.
Through the stunned afternoon, when it's too hot to think,
and the muse of this inland ocean still waits for a name,
from the salt, dark room, the tight horizon-line
catches nothing. I wait. Chairs sweat. Paper crumples the floor.
A lizard gasps on the wall. The sea glares like zinc.
Then, in the door light, not Nike loosening her sandal,
a girl slapping sand from her foot, one hand on the frame.