Betsy Sholl

Coastal Bop

At the piano’s most plaintive moment a few bars
come and go, bird quick. Was it
really blue, and did it
sing, that soul sting, sweet
piercing you want to repeat?
But now the pace picks up, new themes enter
and break. To follow you have to run like
someone on a dock keeping up with the water’s
sun-struck wavelets flashing the sides
of a boat, shadow
and light, little fish
impossible to catch if you haven’t done it
your whole life. And now it’s quickened
again, full throttle ahead, open
sea, water rough and frenzied
like sharks swimming in, everything slashed
jagged, splashed—done for
dashed fractioned fronned dazond
addun drunned

structure cut loose, stunned. Call it
tongues, not chaos, call it casting out
ballast, boat rolling barrels, boxes
swept and bunched at the bow,
then bump crash backlash clustered
and dumped—sounds we oh so
quickly insist into words, but
somebody’s got to
yank them apart
for us oost ooze
keep them wild, raw spray
aaaa in the face, dock swamped, bird
you never saw awe before
and ever since what
was that?

Betsy Sholl
“Coastal Bop” is from Rough Cradle (Alice James Books, 2009).