Cabeza de Vaca Weathers the Gulf by Lesley Clinton

a worn tide     I retreat

shallows joining the deep

the way life crushes life

thirst malignant in each

arc’s rise     sighs in its fall

heartbeats lapping up hours

before fading     obscure

in still chambers purled clean

 

a crest glossed in sun breeze

I’m no part of the swell

after all     maybe churned

in its maw all this time

but now beaded away

like loose mercury     on

a mad roll     sent     exhaled

elemental     airborne

 

somehow I’m marrow formed

can’t go back     not to that

sunken tin soldierhood

that grave      helmeted poise

from my green water caul

I heed the drum     its pulse

writhe self from selfish germ

and rise    go forth     made new