Poetry Corner: Clearwater Beach

by Joy Ladin

Image via Panu Tangchalermkul/Flickr; modified my Maximum MIddle Age

Image via Panu Tangchalermkul/Flickr; modified my Maximum MIddle Age

Someone spilled a drop of me
and now I'm everywhere,
immersing pebbles on the shore,
scaring nesting plovers,
boring their endangered chicks

with unasked-for confessions
that I was young once too,
that I can't fly either,
that I startle myself
when I glimpse my face in the mirror.
I'm so sick of being sick,
so over being over,
so small – no bigger than the universe
a nano-second after the cosmic egg
Big-Bang-ed into n-dimensions,

where "n" is a number that preceded mathematics
and "dimensions" are strings
and "Big Bang" is a thing
I can say but cannot imagine. I stare into the depths of time
but the depths don't stare back.
My father's parents led wildcat strikes, my mother's
lost their Depression grocery store
for giving food on credit.
I wasted decades in solitary confinement
in increasingly hairy skin,

citizen of a country
where millions are drilled
in the math, and aftermath,
of subtracting rent from food
and multiplying by debt.

How did I let this happen?
I was made in the image of God,
the world was put in my hands.
Now, every breath I take
marks another extinction.
The universe may be past its prime,
but there's still light enough to see
nebulae nursing brand-new stars
formed, like us, out of dust and ashes.
Out of billions of years, I still have a few

to do what I was made to.
So here I am, proselytizing plovers,
another endangered creature
who lives and dies, poops and pipes,
soars and decomposes.

Joy Ladin, Gottesman Professor of English at Yeshiva University, is the author of seven books of poetry, including 2015 Lambda Literary Award finalist Impersonation. Her poems, essays and talks can be found at www.joyladin.com.