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Sharon Kunde

Oceanic Antistrophes

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“Take five-and-twenty heaps of cinders dumped here and there in an outside city lot, imagine some of them magnified into mountains, and the vacant lot the sea, and you will have a fit idea of the general aspect of the Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles. A group rather of extinct volcanoes than of isles, looking much as the world at large might after a penal conflagration.”
--Herman Melville, The Encantadas

I. Provisions

We secured beer and a great cheese,
rode them home on a bicycle. I sat on the rack

and cradled your tender belly, bottles chattering
behind me. Upstairs, we steamed ourselves in the iron

tub, considered linoleum's slow warp. We wintered
in a nest of boiled wool on the parlor floor.

Bells clocked earth's revolution, chippered
peg-legged dings into the halyards' dolor.

In dawn's equinoctial fogs, we gather up
crumbs and rinds and board the sloop galloping

on wake, straining for open ocean. The tiller
shivers in your grasp, your eyes wild islands

II. Our Encantadas

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Now boys cram our bed with bony joints.
Sweaty sleepers; in their cells' hot foundries

godlike bodies erupt in nightly increments.
Spring drenches thin soil with blossoms.

We feast on chin-dripping fruits, throw aside
rinds. Two thousand miles distant, my mother lights

on sickbed's ledge. My father swells with the moon, sleeps
beneath the hungry needle. Each reclamation

of his swamped organs saps a dram of some essence,
youth's blunt moxie. Squandered groundwater uplifts

the pocked crust to hereafter's bleachy sun. She watches
with the wasting body, brittle twist of leather.

III. Apollonia

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When will this body stewing in hot
gravies toughen into jerky, be felled

like any edifice, mild surprise shadowing
the map in your eyes' enchanted oceans

and I rising from the bed's edge,
awoken into a ruined Ionian monastery,

grass-tufted tumbled walls, ceilinged
with stars, hard by the goat-infested hills,

one grizzled herder keeping watch on the rocky
slope as I crunch into handfuls of green figs,

their insides teeming with seeds.

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