George David Clark

Wind in the Cypress, Salt in the Wind

What I wanted to say to my brother

the dial tone was already tenderly

humming, so I lay the phone down


without placing a number. I might

have lullabied it to my bride instead,

but she was listening to her pillow


so intently that she’d closed

her patient eyes. The blackened television

beat me to the private punch line


in my head. Even as I left the house,

I felt the feckless alter-echoes

of a thousand messages precede me


in the breathless froth and lather

of the moon across the fescue.

Though all was still, a psalm


I could have prayed, a more

precise rendition of the tune

I’d almost thought, advanced there


like a season at the speed

of natural law. At last,

I wanted only to appeal that you,


who’d gone, would come again

as you had done before and meet me

on the ice-white lawn beyond the palms.


You were there already, having heard.

I’d brought so many inexpressibles

I wanted to impress on you,


but something barometric changed,

came backward, and I knew

that I was wrong about them all.


My mind was raw, my mouth—

and every syllable I’d labored

to prepare dissolved. Thank God.


Wind in the cypress, salt in the wind:

the unambitious stretch of beachside

still exceeds my indiscretions


and is patently immune.

Briefly we each smiled before you turned,

the streetlights golden at our shoulders


like two empty speech balloons.




“Wing in the Cypress, Salt in the Wind” first appeared in Third Coast, vol. 42, 2017.