Peach Delphine

Naming is not Ownership

My mother will never
call me daughter, dead name
stitched to living flesh,
there never was a father,
just an accident report,
black and white photograph

Sky scoured cloudless
wind uncoils, loping across waves
with long strides of a bobcat
anxious for shade in the tangle
of fox vines dropped
from cabbage palms and oak

We share shadow
absence stalks our days,
as dry season shifts to wet
cumulus proofs over inland heat,
footprints, no longer visible, trail
away into scrub, sand and palmetto

Sea assembles waves
beyond arc of horizon,
Moon pulls tide
into the embrace of mangrove,
our feet sink into sand and shell,
small birds sort wrack line

This form is water made word
this form is flesh made wave,
ghost made smoke, a burning
banked up in ash, left for the morrow

Balancing contradiction
easier burden than what you dead name
which is already gone, what you name dead,
so much ash taking shape as absence,
when you press your ear
to the shell it is not the sea
but your own emptiness coiling into conch

The question, loaded on a scow
of burdens, makes port,
“When did you know?”
As if knowing could be uttered
over whetstone, slurring its song
as if knowing was a certainty,
a passport through shadow
and streetlamp, not another false moon
moths circle to exhaustion,
not another blade of hibiscus flowering


We have an old dog
with a bad leg,
we have a book of scars,
and a bucket of knives,
an iron pot polished to reflection.
Moon did not plant these palms
unfolding fans of a skyward urge,
there is no one to pray over us
we have empty hands
with only words of weather,
shelf clouds,
frontal boundaries,
tropical systems,
where the scaled bodies of moonlight and tide
conceal themselves
in the shoals and reefs
of our eyes.
We have reflections
of fragmentation
and a long row to windward.
We have two baskets
of laundry and an overripe
mango for the little possum
in the cabbage palm.
We have woodstorks
bald and contemplative
of wind or the small brown anoles.
We have peanuts boiling,
one quart of chowchow
and four quarts of pickled jalapeños.
We have abandoned
the pretense that we are not expendable, that we are not already
in the hangman’s pocket.
We have candles
and a hatchet, a flat iron skiff
and a tarp.
We have a vow, an oath,
a talisman of a small owl,
carved of lignum vitae,
we have the word
of absence ,
we have become smoke,
poured into the glass,
a kedge
fouled in coral

Peach Delphine was born in Tampa, Florida. Worked as a cook. Infatuated with undeveloped Gulf coast. Twitter@Peach Delphine

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