SOUTHEAST LIGHTHOUSE STAIRS,
From the north the winds lie long and light slants
differently this time. I stick October into a socket of bone,
readjust its broken arm. I howl beside the goldenrod
along these cliffs, startle finches into flight. Ragged
feather dusters of cattails rove between their shoulders.
The air is yellowed with dust. I carry all of her there, a mosaic
of stones and fragments of bones, a skeleton key
with no door to open. She is the lazy strain of lost shells,
the deep green and copper rust of the body. Climbing
down nine flights of stairs, sometimes chasing the light
I lay her down among the tall grass. She is the flinty spark
off a match I cannot strike. A gingham dog tears at my father's
hand, laps his last slurp of water. I lie to the man who wants her
ashes to mingle with his. I tell him I have saved all of her
for him. I want the sea to take back all of my mistakes. Carved
and thick as a pane of old glass the tide sweeps
the beach. It picks through stones with crooked fingers of salt.
The tide, they tell me, will be coming in soon.