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Reading Ulysses by the Snotgreen Sea

Reading Ulysses by the Snotgreen Sea

I’ve walked over water to the far rail,

Rodanthe Pier, hoping to see a loggerhead

—and I’m standing there next to Russell,

who I’ve known 43 years but only nods

as he yanks up hard on his rod, pelicans

dive bombing into what a good ol’ boy

on the other side, Chris embroidered

on his hoodie, tells me is a school

of menhaden beneath the rolling green water,

casting his line, yanking it hard like Russell,

smirking through a round forlorn face,

saying sharks keep taking his live bait—

when the swells flatten out and the menhaden

disappear in a sudden suspension of voices,

words, movement, a stillness at loggerheads

with the thick book I’ve left behind on the beach,

681 pages fluttering on an abandoned folding

chair, momentous wordsphrasesallusionsillusions

tumbling into one another between the shiny covers

speaking of hypocrisies in the holy church, eating

breakfast, Sinn Fein, daily gossip, Shakespeare,

lusts, corrupt politicians, agonizing births, senseless

death, gravediggers leaning on shovels—

when a gust of wind lifts me over the rail,

and I float off toward the cirrus horizon,

where Joyce (Joyce?) tosses a ring buoy

off the deck of a schooner, its four masts

falling off the edge of earth as I find myself

floating back to shore on gently rising swells

past the pier, past surfers sitting on their boards,

past children playing in the surf until I roll off

onto sand, skin gritty with the spirit of body,

the corpus, the corpse, lunch, sweat, the private

life between the covers, that endless longing,

all of us trudging, trudging, battle after battle,

meal after meal, breath breath, thrust thrust, this

achingly long story of our journey back home,

wave after wave of words crashing into foam.

—SL, Rodanthe, NC, August 2022

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