Tayve Neese

Aubade for Fernandina Beach

Each morning my body betrays me
a hundred different ways, but still I force it

along the shore as a wanderer though it wants to slow.

Poor femurs, poor flexors, there is dementia 
in your marrow.

You forget you are unbroken, where to go, the oath
I’ve made to watch over my own sutured soul.


The dune has transfixed me in its height 
and width.  It is impassable.  

Just let me crawl back inside the nautilus,

hide from sky, more funerals.  
There against its pearled lip

my own wounds are barely visible. 


In my loneliness I bare my belly to the teeth of the sun.
I mark my third eye with a thousand grains of sand

while the tern is suspended above me on a stale unending wind.

I raise soft castles for my dead.  On this shore
they once gathered scalloped edged shells

though the tide erased all they built of their own hands

and the force with which they loved me. 

How far must I walk to find the house of the dead?
I go to the farthest jetty where mist meets the ill shaped stones

and sky is nothing but a grey smear above the water.
There my reluctant body is perched above foam and barnacles

I call for those who’ve gone, but no answer follows.  


I am among the mourners and not even the rocking 
of the sea can bring me solace or rest.

I will stop speaking to those I’ve known who’ve passed

and converse now with you, who are not yet born, 
of salt and sorrow, sea oats, this untempered heat of noon.

I imagine you a silver fish forming in my daughter’s womb

and tell you all evidence of me will eventually be gone
though once I basked, not under the eye of God,

but under the wings of a tern.

Originally published in Burrow.
Forthcoming in Locust from Salmon Poetry.