Joshua Corey

A Fine Romance

I can explain: the sea is not ice. It is a salinity that resists
slippage, that cannot thaw or be resolved,
that will not stalk its own surface,
that can’t extratheistically transform its peculiar substance
without alluding to buggery, misconduct, pandered memory
(viz. Lot, Lot’s wife). But

I slip on some ice. I cantilever off
the frozen boardwalk; I careen into plasma’s low centigrade,
I am in the salt water
one hand strikes through the glass, another hand, there can’t be three;
I am drowning, I invite the blood cousin
into the fibrous failed Egyptian brachia
of my lungs, I am swallowing the whale, its protesting flukes,

opening mouth, eyes, admitting the fat moon slack
of belly, fins, volcanic ash settling
around my ears, I’m submerged—how long can this
go on? You realize of course that these means yearn.

But you’re so sly behind
the buttons of your blouse. You are not open
or closed. The cat neither dead nor alive. And
the revealed thing we can’t call heart or beat or
even the loyal bone—damp clod stuck
to the back of a tamping shovel. We mustn’t. We’ll be caught. We’re

caught in a coil of rope—
constricted by red hemp—
twisting under zirconium—
lidded by an ocean—