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3 poems by Anne Graue

Sea Elegy

The first ocean I walked into was the Indian

warm, exquisite, blue/green, white beaches hot

under my feet. I’d been warned about menacing

sea creatures I’d only ever seen on The Undersea World

of Jacques Cousteau through lenses of safety

in front of others’ eyes. I heard there were sharks

and stone fish in the waters off of Lamu Island

where I loved being, where I saw the Southern Cross

one night, the tide just under my feet hanging

from a stone wall next to yours, the light barely

visible, the stars still bright. I could hear the water

as I walked through cobbled streets, no cars, the slap

of water against stone above sand that would be

bare again tomorrow. Hot winds leaned in on every yes,

let up when the sun rose. Soft leather sandals caressed

my feet as I walked wrapped in African cotton

from the village to the beach, stopping only when

the call to prayer wailed above and others fell

to their knees bowing to the east. I bowed to other

things. Wind on skin halts time but doesn’t stop it

for good. Tomorrow comes disheveled, stained,

with no apologies or all of them at once. The next

night in the only bar on the island where foreigners

congealed in search of something more fun than paradise,

another chance to resist or slip into the skin of another

animal will show itself and so on. This story doesn’t always

end well. The dhow taking us to a smaller island off shore

rocks on the green-blue warm bath of the sea. My friends

and I nap under trees, eat fish caught and prepared by the crew

who make their living this way. If they knew I wasn’t rich,

they’d not be so accommodating, but for an afternoon,

we are pampered and charged extra for a snorkeling lesson.

Forgetting the water may be shark infested, we swim, watch,

and swim until we return to Lamu, rested and fed, to walk

to the guest house that costs so little and provides clean

beds and showers. Years later, I’ll swim in the Mediterranean

where Aphrodite rose from the sea, where everything was

clear and blue. Just as before, every long look was a yes.

We understood how things would go. Who knew there would be

an expiration date stamped, illegible on our skins under

humid breezes wafting over us as we napped with windows

open, rocking in our own boat on calmer waters?

Orca Behavior

A brother and sister board

the bus, sit next to me

looking out of the window

—I’m pushed up against

the glass an elbow

in my side (I won’t

cry) their faces

framed in hunter

green the interior white

bright yellow the outside—

they sit like friends

who know me

laughing clown smiles

under bright blue eyes—

these days I listen

to David Attenborough

narrate orca behavior

the older female tossing

a seal into the air showing

her younger brother

how it’s done. They have to

eat, so I forgive them.

On Black Friday I think about the Poetic Line

Thanksgiving’s come

and gone and the blue whale

is the largest animal

on the planet—I can’t fathom

the immensity of flesh,

the krill it takes to fill

such a body that seems bound

to be empty for most

of the time it takes: breathe

out, then in, then dive

deeper into a vastness

down into one’s own home

that contains as it expands

that shrinks as it unfolds.


Anne Graue (she/her), the author of Full and Plum-Colored Velvet, (Woodley Press) and Fig Tree in Winter (Dancing Girl Press), has work in numerous journals and anthologies, online and in print. She is a poetry editor for The Westchester Review and for The Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry.


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