The Want Bone

The tongue of the waves tolled in the earth's bell. 

Blue rippled and soaked in the fire of blue. 

The dried mouthbones of a shark in the hot swale 

Gaped on nothing but sand on either side.

The bone tasted of nothing and smelled of nothing, 

A scalded toothless harp, uncrushed, unstrung. 

The joined arcs made the shape of birth and craving

And the welded-open shape kept mouthing O.

Ossified cords held the corners together

In groined spirals pleated like a summer dress. 

But where was the limber grin, the gash of pleasure?

Infinitesimal mouths bore it away,

The beach scrubbed and etched and pickled it clean.

But O I love you it sings, my little my country

My food my parent my child I want you my own 

my flower my fin my life my lightness my O.




© 2017 Robert Pinsky