PoetrySpring 2018

Photo Negative: The Sea – Holly Karapetkova

Experience is                              Not truth, not
more than                                   the cold wet sting of
my sunburn, is                           the sea. I could see
a thousand different shapes   in the foam
of a single wave,                        if only it would stay put,
shapes which are not               the sea, not
the point of                                the water’s motion
the motion                                 reaching
opening                                      the door—
the old wound—                       salt water heals but
it also burns;                              what to do now,
I have seen                                 a thousand different
shapes of                                    sufferings pass
your face,                                    knowing I have caused
each of them                              in turn
shadows rising—                       the thousand and first—
should I leave?                           should I stay?

Would my going tell you         What is the truth of who I am,
who you are, or simply            of the wave,
what will not stay still               its foam sliding back
down the shore, dissolving     into the current,
leaving unanswered                 the true nature of
the sea—                                    how to define it—
is it physics,                               an angle of motion,
chemistry,                                  a bond between atoms
the coldness                              circling an ankle—
rising around a calf,                 is it salt, water,
algae, wave, sand,                    is it fish, dolphin,
ship:                                            of course it is
none of                                       these but
our minds empty                      place us here
with the shore,                          with the sound of
the wind and water carving    rock. You loved me
a space,                                      true,
but does it matter                    now you are
in the current                            moving away.


Author Bio: Holly Karapetkova’s poetry, prose, and translations from Bulgarian have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, Drunken Boat, and many other places. Her second book, Towline, won the Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize and was recently published by Cloudbank Books.

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