by George Murray
The surf arrives at the shore and seems to retreat.
A change in perspective has it neither coming
nor going, but rather lying still and panting
on the sand and rocks in rhythmic breaths, like a man
prone on a couch—a baby asleep on his chest—
eyes open to the ceiling, counting the pulses
time makes in his ears, every thought a wasted thought
because he cannot move, cannot lift a hammer,
cannot forge a notion over dead embers.
A living for living's sake—the linear flows
of blood and time a façade of always going
forward—or pushing from behind in a closed loop.
Every blink, every twitch, every sweet squeak and shift
in position, every everything—these pieces
of time slide away, but don't go anywhere.
The waves arrive and arrive, without end.
He looks up, past the child's head, wonders if the couch
is a kind of shore, if the ceiling makes a good
last horizon. He's where home has become itself,
and won't cease being itself, like a second hand
ticking, like a surf rolling. There's a vibrating
recognition of time—the physical, fleeing
ticks from a clock not of this room, revealed in blasts
of blood through his ears. The blue troughs of his veins lie
like aqueducts in hillsides of still muscle,
pushing in pulses against the skin, his eardrums,
the couch, the baby on his chest—his heart knocking
on the ribs in a time designed to soothe, every
breath from the boy's nose in harmony with his own
quivering air—rising now, then not—unhurried
bellows exhaling on some slow, well-contained fire.
Knock, knock. Knock, knock. Knock, knock. Please, let me out.
Time piles up on him in expectation, even
as it slips away in ambition. The child lies
cheek-down on his chest, an important paperweight,
rock on his living beach—or a black spot among
the stars, a hot singularity into which
all his light falls. And despite his hollow witness—
the systems laid out in ceiling cracks like massive
drains down which he gets sucked in spirals, clockwise
down towards the Undone, which is the Undoing—
he knows he won't trade this accident victim's view
for any other. Another couch or castaway
beach, another blank ceiling would only offer
another site for the same ticking in his ears.
Below his chin a fontanel throbs like the sea—
a small extra shot at life matching his own knocking
blood—the surf that neither comes nor goes.