Near the Ocean
(inspired by Robert Lowell)

Three pillows, end on end, rolled in a daybed blanket
define the space between us.

You no longer care to breathe me in,
share the taste of my day.
While I ache for the salt slick of your skin,
the stress of contact.

I watch the ebb and flow of your breathing,
the swell of your chest over shipwreck-ribs.

Your spine describes a strange path
climbing to an unseen promontory,
the taut skin stretched like sails
gathering the breeze.

Tomorrow I will wake becalmed -
strike out for shore on a spring tide.

Somewhere, as the breakers fade behind,
I may find your footprint soft in plush,

and if I lay my head on your empty pillow
I swear I’ll hear the ocean.

Carole Houlston

If you've any comments on this poem, Carole Houlston would be pleased to hear from you.