An insecticide drops every grasshopper, why not us,
a justice with no sense of balance or quiet?
We're convinced we'll be wiped away with a gentle gesture.
We try not to wander, but something blows incessantly,
our aortas like tea kettles, while the pigeons
with iridescent necks stuff brittle sticks in the eaves,
the sky adjacent so the eggs might dream of flying.
No, we didn't know what we were signing.
We won't take responsibility for our fingerprints.
Most anyone could have tampered with them
in the violent current, in the oblivious intervening years.
We comply with plenty already. We don't make trouble.
We'd like never to trouble you again, whoever you are.
But wholeness depends on all the discarded stars
awash in a thousand seas, eyes as far apart as a flounder's,
or the worm body of a turtle twisted in a net, or dolphins
chirping in the wake of a fishing fleet once it rounds the horizon
like someone drawing a knife just beneath the skin of an orange.
Little by little, our frame of reference increases its speed
for the sake of those blazing ahead of us in the chilling mist,
on behalf of strangers in feathers, bowler hats, and pencil pants.
We'd better get down to business, scrub the surf's speedy laundry.
Two sailors smoking on a bench near the carousel
think the sea is ordinary as wedding silver. The tourists
from Buffalo and St. Paul feel it's lovemaking's music,
a cross between swimming and sleeping, sun and rain,
silence and horror. Teenagers bending over a beached jellyfish
are sure the sea tumbles rotted dice in its throat. Otherwise it's all
we can't dream taunting us, ammunition and the horticulture of kelp.
After the eateries close, the waitresses migrate to the breakwater.
Their voices rise toward the moon as their feet kick off sandals
and walk into the surf, their aprons trailing behind them like blood.
"Psalm to an Unknown You" was first published in the Fall 2014 issue of The Gettysburg Review.
Richard Lyons has published in such journals as The Nation, The New Republic, and Poetry. His fourth collection Un Poco Loco is under contract with Iris Press with a spring 2016 release date.