Somewhere there are sea lions
twenty-four hours a day, I tell myself,
sunning on banks, or, when it’s dark,
dreaming of ice fishing.
I don’t think how they eat the seals, the seals
themselves stalking penguins, the penguins
just trying to get home with fish for their babies,
though I learned this from Morgan Freeman
narrating. There are sea lions
storing so much fat in their pelts.
And somewhere else small goats on skinny legs
falling off mountains without hurting themselves,
chewing the shirts maybe of Tibetan sherpas.
And right here in America, that island,
Chincoteague, run by ponies. And if that’s not
enough, the shape damselflies make mating,
a sort of warped pipecleaner heart,
one stretches down and one leans back—
you’d blush. And they stay flying.
All of these genus types have killed something,
it isn’t that I don’t know that, even flowers
in the tropics, even otters
whether or not they sleep—I’ve seen the photo—
holding hands. They just don’t kill me.
And they’re never sleeping all at once.
No one is sleeping all at once, which means
when I can’t sleep I’m ordinary in Australia,
or for a baker, or a truck driver. Strangers are up
for darker reasons too, but I fall asleep
before I get to them, or them to me. I dream:
how pretty the prayer calls
braiding the air along a precipice.
How red the scarf around the refugee’s shoulders.
I know the ocean isn’t really in the shell—
just trucks behind the post office next door
dropping doors down, emptying letters.
January rifling through and coming up to
my window and vibrating the glass,
the shell moving its air in a new way, seeming
louder. I read the ocean flooding in is not
blood rushing like we used to think, though
we have heard our heartbeats magnified
before, it is not us, it is the room as it already
was, those sounds. Still, we must surely move
the room. The ocean must be trying to reach us.
My student Amy says Bruno Mars the singer seems sincere
about wanting his ex to be happy. He loves her so much,
he hopes her new man buys her flowers.
Crystal, ten years older than Amy, offers: He feels regret.
Patrick says he’s talking to himself, telling himself
not to fuck up next time. To buy the next woman flowers.
Delia says not all women want flowers. Haley agrees,
causing a ricochet in that chair row
of quick high fives and we’ve-got-it-figured out smiles.
Evan says he’s trying to win her back. He hasn’t learned
anything. It’s a ruse. He doesn’t want her to be happy.
He wants her to be happy with him. Delia says God,
to hear this song five times a day on the radio—
Haley says We do. Delia says I mean as the girlfriend.
She’ll never come back, Crystal says.
He’s learning, Patrick says.
Amy says, again, he seems sincere.