Instead of Elegy

/ /

A slight tug at my DNA
a tighter grip on my crow’s feet

the white glare on the waveless sea
watered-down with gusts of rain

as I follow a road that hugs the coast
to a disused lighthouse at Cape Meares

dragging a hydra-headed hurt
till I stumble on the trunkless Octopus Tree

When you were green were your limbs forced down
hard to the ground, were you pilloried

till you elbowed up like a candelabra
were you told ‘no, you’re an octopus tree’

I can’t stop looking at what I see
where a trunk never was, so close to me

when almost a sound knocks at the heart
and I want it to be fiercer—but

the wind can’t play on what isn’t there
and the waves keep coming up against the cliff

and the shadows crop along the moss
and the horses shift on the high meadow

beyond this monster Sitka spruce
nothing but arms held up in the air