Three turkey vultures talk shop on a sand dune.
A slow scorch inches toward the tideline.
No one knows if the hurricane will come in time
to drown the flames leaping out of the swamp.
The ancients believe the oceans remember
the shape of every hull that plies the waters.
I feel that too, sitting with you, some powers
in us may not die even after our life
slips through its wake. How else to explain
the comfort of watching you half asleep,
half drifting between this life and the deep -
your body a lens through which I see
all the boats between us, lost forever -
lost except in the ocean of memory
which is everywhere looking in the lee
for where we've gone. No one knows,
what happens after the body lays down
its sorrows, not even those three vultures,
more patient than priests hunched at the altar,
each red head glistening like a peach.
- J. P. White