Stuart Greenhouse

Cowrie Apostrophe

Let circumstance be breeze. At once:

shells rush, rub ocean, is it sure

or is it unsure? You are unsure

then sure. On shore, then are shore. Sink, shell,

not once as one but down to one ten thousand

thousand ones. Now you are thought

approaching thought. A thought that moves

like breeze, not surf—an end-slow

breeze near not. Once, inland,

where the breeze moves so, was ocean.

Once you think it through some

ten thousand thousand years, you’ll understand

that, not vague or me. Will that be memory,

as-if-remembering a moist body-in-body accreting

ideas once home, once heaven settled

to routine, you, set longer

than that body’s set of days, the shape which gave

you shape you gave shape to?

What are you now? What are you? At the edge

of permeant being, ages roll

your thought, you, down to its subsumed selves—

its heart is you, its trying

is what you think surety is: unsurely.



“Cowrie Apostrophe” originally appeared in Chelsea magazine, and then in What Remains, a chapbook published by the Poetry Society of America (2005).