the face of the deep is heavy

“water hides itself like stone
and the face of the deep is heavy”
—Job 38:30


the sea says come to the shore of the sea
stand between what you were

and what you are
gills fallen away

parents murdered
mourning the villages of old language

the tide flowing in and out
the breathing of the stars filling the body

God gives

and God takes away

blessed is God’s name


the reef teems
below my feet

but I cannot
swim its currents

salt water in my stomach

I taste the milk that was my home
and it is suffocation

the sea says
shall we accept good at the hand of God

and not also evil

ask the earth and she will tell you


I will make you a garland of stars
says the sea
because you left me

I will heave up for you
the white skeletons of my children


some wasps mate inside the fig
the male

will never leave
the inside of the fruit

the female will know a moment of air
before she plunges

into another inner seed
God gives, she says

her mouth full of sweet fig
God takes away


and have you come to the source of the sea
or walked in the cracks of the deep?

have you known the gates of death?
many times I have stood before them

it is written in the Talmud
the gates of return are always open

we come to them and cannot forget them
the rain falling into the sea

the blessing over death


the tide coming in says
God gives

and the tide going out says
God takes away

(the land says the opposite)


the foot of the conch grasps in the deep
the chambers of the nautilus dream

each one alone and separate
the salt restless in the water

in the coral reef of evening
in the bed of thick darkness

I walk the staircase of loneliness
up to the stars

my love sleeps
but I am awake


I give nothing
says my soul curled up in the night
I take away nothing

my soul does not know what is true
that we build our lives on the crushed shells of life
that our breath like gnats
will fly into other mouths
that the waters in us dream of return to the deep

but the sea knows

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