By Averill Curdy
Years ago, I suspected I might end
Alone and imagined myself, fierce,
Stalwart, walking these beaches
With a driftwood staff. But not this.
In the one saucepan, which tilts toylike
On its base, I boil water for coffee.
To answer silence, I narrate the minutes:
Rinse the pan, put away groceries;
Between me and the Oreos I’ll create
Dramas of temptation and resistance.
I came upon a sea lion, given up
In the dunes, inveigling scavengers. Flayed,
It lay gelid, flushed, freaked with sand,
At the crease of transformation—
Organ, orchid, odalisque. The gulls
Moved like sharpening knives above
A too-elaborate meal for one who eats
Alone. Behind the dunes, the Pacific roars,
Approaches, and withdraws, reaching
For something, for anything—everything—
But not for this.
Averill Curdy is the author of the collection “Song & Error” (2013, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and co-edited, with Lynne McMahon, “The Longman Anthology of Poetry” (2006). She has received fellowships from the NEA and the Rona Jaffe Foundation, among others, and her poems have appeared widely in both the United States and England. She lives in Chicago and teaches at Northwestern University.