He swears he saw the shadow of a dolphin below a wave here.
When they first came, he knows she saw it too. Her eyes
Widened, and they shared a glance and a giggle,
Like a wreath of bubbles, like a secret vault of blue.
A feeling, a vibration, the last echo in a chain of echoes below.
After that, Tel Aviv was of the dolphins. He came back
In 2001, and in the rubble of the Dolphinarium, he waited.
But there was nothing. When she visited
She did not even ask,
As though she sensed the void. It was unspoken. Then
He ran away from her in 2007. Seeking what?
But still the sea was silent. Even when she died.
That night, in the sand, holding his legs to his chest,
The words of his friends lost in the surf, and the buzz
Of the world, bounding from wave to wave. Still nothing.
I want to be cremated ,
She always said. I want my ashes to be poured
Into the sea.
But they bury their own, so their mother, she printed
Pictures for him to take back and burn.
I will do this he said.
He did not unpack for two months. Then it was winter. Then
New Year’s Eve. And there had been rain, and there was wind,
And it was cold, and he said **** it.
The kiosk outside
Was empty, airless, damp. He palmed a cheap lighter,
Dropped a coin, left.
And he walked down to the sea,
Into the wind, the wet, the cold. The pictures in his pocket.
There is a jetty made of rubble, next to the Dolphinarium,
Where he returns to year after year. If he stands there
And listens he can hear the edge of the world, the sinking
Of bones. Behind him the city, before him the sea.
And when he takes both in for long enough
He forgets which is which.
He went there and looked
At the foam forever, blinking away spindrift, the lighter
Turning in his fingers.
And when he pulled out the pictures
And held the lighter up to them it was a new year.
His thumbs are scarred now. The pictures would not burn.
He railed against the rocks. His throat fought the wind.
With every flick the flame was choked. And the lighter broke but
He would not stop but for a moment to wipe his face.
Her name and spoke to her.
But there was no ash.
Just the city,
the sea, the wind.
And in the calm before dawn he slumped
Home, the pictures, blackened and reddened, back in his pocket.
To be shoved away in some old drawer.
He saw his mother
Later that year and she did not ask because she did not remember.
In the summer, he watched the jetty each day, but from a distance,
And noted how the silhouettes of fishermen reached
Out to the city in the morning then back to the sea by evening, distorted
With each swell.
But he could not bring himself to stand
There. Two years in Tel Aviv and he could be no longer.
Then it is winter again, and a month before he is to leave,
And a week before New Year’s Eve.
He remembers the pictures.
He meets a woman at a party and they make love.
He sees her every night and when New Year’s Eve comes, they plan to meet.
Allenby is quiet as he steps outside, and the kiosk
He drifts down to the sea without thought, carried
By the current of the city.
Phone shaking in his pocket but he feels
Nothing. Then he is there, again.
His back to the city, crouched.
On the jetty, alone, the pictures in one hand, lighter in the other.
And the fire lasts for but a moment, and the sparks recede into the sea. And he brushes the remains into the dark, and turns back to the city.
Later, he will greet the woman with a rose between his teeth and Spring
In his step, and he will walk into the night with her hand
In his, and the call of the sea sounding inside.