Assault to Abjury

Raymond McDaniel

Rain commenced, and wind did.
A crippled ship slid ashore.
Our swimmer's limbs went heavy.
The sand had been flattened.
The primary dune, the secondary dune, both leveled.
The maritime forest, extracted.
Every yard of the shore was shocked with jellyfish.
The blue pillow of the man o' war empty in the afterlight.
The threads of the jellyfish, spent.
Disaster weirdly neatened the beach.
We cultivated the debris field.
Castaway trash, our treasure.
Jewel box, spoon ring, sack of rock candy.
A bicycle exoskeleton without wheels, grasshopper green.
Our dead ten speed.
We rested in red mangrove and sheltered in sheets.
Our bruises blushed backwards, our blisters did.
is it true is it true
God help us we tried to stay shattered but we just got better.
We grew adept, we caught the fish as they fled.
We skinned the fish, our knife clicked like an edict.
We were harmed, and then we healed.
From Saltwater Empire by Raymond McDaniel. Copyright 2008 by Raymond McDaniel. Published by Coffee House Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Further Reading

Poems About Tragedy and Grief
"My True Love Hath My Heart and I Have His"
by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge
Adonais, 49-52, [Go thou to Rome]
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Hamlet, Act III, Scene I [To be, or not to be]
by William Shakespeare
Against Elegies
by Marilyn Hacker
Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
by Martín Espada
Arise, Go Down
by Li-Young Lee
by Carl Adamshick
Breaking Across Us Now
by Katie Ford
by Ruth Stone
Day of Grief
by Gerald Stern
Dear Lonely Animal,
by Oni Buchanan
December, 1919
by Claude McKay
Easter 1916
by W. B. Yeats
by Kevin Young
Facing It
by Yusef Komunyakaa
Fairbanks Under the Solstice
by John Haines
here rests
by Lucille Clifton
by Ann Lauterbach
I Can Afford Neither the Rain
by Holly Iglesias
I Found Her Out There
by Thomas Hardy
I measure every Grief I meet (561)
by Emily Dickinson
I Pack Her Suitcase with Sticks, Light the Tinder, and Shut the Lid
by Rob Schlegel
by Kamilah Aisha Moon
In Louisiana
by Albert Bigelow Paine
by John Milton
Memorial Day for the War Dead
by Yehuda Amichai
On His Deceased Wife
by John Milton
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Pretty Polly
by Jane Springer
Quiet Mourning
by Laura Moriarty
by Matthew Arnold
Richard Cory
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Rose Aylmer
by Walter Savage Landor
September 1, 1939
by W. H. Auden
Song ["When I am dead, my dearest"]
by Christina Rossetti
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Surprised By Joy
by William Wordsworth
That This
by Susan Howe
The Dead
by Joan Aleshire
The Gaffe
by C. K. Williams
The Hour and What Is Dead
by Li-Young Lee
The Not Tale (Funeral)
by Caroline Bergvall
The Second Coming
by W. B. Yeats
The Stolen Child
by W. B. Yeats
The Widow's Lament in Springtime
by William Carlos Williams
The Words Under the Words
by Naomi Shihab Nye
by Melissa Ginsburg
To W.C.W. M.D.
by Alfred Kreymborg