The sky has been curdling for days—
the slow-bloom of pale tumors
drifting against the oily lid of slate grey.
Smoke tusks coil from burning leaf piles
and in treetops, unfurled black wigs,
shallow nests gape emptied of sunlight.
The earth smells of whey and udders.
There is no dust in winter, no weeping,
fish don’t bark from tangled, slippery nets.
Instead, the stethoscope-cold silence
and the buttery-gold glow of lichen
furring over lifeless branches, stiff ropes,
their crusty flounce on aluminum hulls.
And the wind that slices the leathery skin of the sea,
churns stale water in the hollows of boats,
rattles the rigging metal like a coin in a dryer,
pulls the sails, slaps and swallows them,
turns them into writhing disembodied tongues,
the urge to lick themselves. This wind,
its breath of sibilance and smoke, crass phosphorous
and bitter salt, of muck and smothered bark and tired sailcloth,
it wanders in through the door that’s been left ajar—
grazes the wet skirt hanging on the wooden chair,
the worries that gathered in its folds, and nudges
your sex that is a flightless bird in a fallen nest.