Thalassacide: poem by Steven Heighton

After the 2095 tsunami

Tsunami - Gabriel Andrés Trujillo Escobedo editedOn the shrink-wrapped shoreline a madman
sits shiva for the seas, lapis
and lapping the last living coast
with strontium
as a castaway hamlet floats
eastward over the dateline (the village
retains its form, its dirt lanes now
salt canals, small Shinto temple
a flagship).
In the deeps a deeper
quiet accrues, a Permian anemia;
the insurgent seas, on the face of it
victorious, still have to hoist
the foam white flags of breaking waves,
as ages beneath the sun’s farthest scope
carbon sea-caves (those eerie
protozoan parks, where all this began)
turn tomb.
On a shoreline ledged like the lip of a grave
a one-man clean-up crew broods—your son, a centenarian
in eras after you—mourner late to the wake
or reluctant sage who has just seen through
the last possible proof of God.

This story is from the spring 2015 issue of Eighteen Bridges. Like what you read? Subscribe here.

• Steven Heighton is the author of the story collection The Dead Are More Visible, the essay collection Workbook, the novel Afterlands, and more.

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