It has been here as long as I have I think,
settling in the sand.
The current drags through like a wind,
carrying small reef-building creatures
to this outpost.
When I was a child it looked different.
It was a room then, the brass knobs spit-shined
and the drawers filled with carefully folded clothes;
the sheets on the small bed slightly rumpled,
the corners tucked in. A lamp, a little table and chair.
These were mine. Back then, mine meant always,
or, if you like, an open cannister holding the two fragile wings
of this and now: mother and father and sister.
What brought me here? Algae covers the bedstead
like a tiny dark forest. A moon snail creeps across the floor
in a straight line.
Sixty feet down, color leeches from everything, even the red charm I bought in Tibet
for my mother, whose body had crystalized. Red is for long life. “Her abdomen is frozen,”
the oncologist said.
The moon snail is almost out of sight.
Its gray, wrinkled body passes over the sand in that same straight line
toward the end of the continental shelf
and the drop-off. I watch for others, visitors,
a gleam of something turning away
in the blue.
It is not childhood, exactly.
A shoe drifts by.
There are my table and chair
too small to sit at. They say: all along
you have not seen even one thing clearly.