Thursday Poem


They were lovely in the quartz and jasper sand
As if they had created terrariums with their bodies
On purpose; adding sprigs of seaweed, seashells,
Mussels, a fish jaw. Hundreds; no—
Thousands of baby stars. We touched them,
Surprised to find them soft, pliant, almost
Living in their attitudes. We would dry them, arrange them,
Form landscapes, geodesics . . . We gathered what we could
In the approaching darkness. Then we left hundreds of
Thousand of flawless five-fingered specimens sprawled
Along the beach as far as we could see, all massed
Together: little martyrs, soldiers, artless suicides
In lifelong liberation from the sea. So many
Splayed hands, the tide shoveled in.

by Lorna Dee Cervantes
Touching the Fire; Fifteen Poets
of Today’s Latin Renaissance
Anchor Books, 1998