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Carmen Lupton

Sea Lesson

I've been sucking
sea waste from the floor
like a catfish on her rounds.
I've been chewing
on scraps of dialogue.
Now I listen to great big shells
& tiny pink ones, too,
and the tiny ones tell me a story
I can almost taste
& lick my lips with, and then
I'm muttering ocean words
to myself like silt, seaweed and algae turf.
I've been in this rocking chair for hours
watching you and you and you
swim by wise as flounders,
paying no mind to turbulence
from yachts and sharks.
My gills still weep
from time to time,
flap then lie still against my sides
& lose the desire to breathe.
I'm fingering foam
for the words to say
the waves tremble like a knee
holding back its reflex.
Without so much as a lifeguard's whistle,
the ocean's mouth slams shut,
& I'm left alone
drunk on salt,
chest filled with blurry prayers,
waiting to drown
and at the same time,
dying to know

©2003 by Carmen Lupton

Born to an Irish mother and Spanish father, Carmen Lupton is a poet, writer, and editor. Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies, including Mondo Barbie and DC Poets Against the War: An Anthology. Lupton was a finalist for the 2004 Rita Dove Poetry Award, and in 2003, she won Second Prize in the Larry Neal Poetry Competition. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

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