The southern edge of the world is named for fire--
Tierra del Fuego--not for its flames, but a lack thereof.
Blue, hard enough, becomes insufferable as heat.
Damage is always blue. Blue in the bruises
from childhood. Blue music for people who've lost things.
Blue is the pen that leaks at your desk. Blue, the mateless earring
in your drawer. In a blue land, Magellen wept tears of ice,
having discovered, at last, the passageway
that connects us all. Two months later
he was dead. Only fourteen men
returned to Portugal, swearing that no one
would ever repeat their journey.
Oxygen demands blue. On a glacial tour,
I learn that the bluest segments--the ones
most pocketed with air--are readiest to fall.
I imagine deeper ice. Unfisured and red.
Carrying color like an invisible rose.
We drink whiskey with flecks of iceburg,
watch men spear it like tough whales.
The boat rocks in silt-heavy water: unnatural blue.
Everyone is taking snapshots:
that complicated azure of faceted ice. How it breaks
and learns to swim, leaning into wind
to sift across the painted cara of the lake.
At its end, the shore so filled with twisted forms of ice
we think a whale has died. Huge arcs of blue
in the shape of bones: strange vertebrea off the bluest shores.
On an island off of Africa
men tempt fish toward their boats
with a song. Their voices shifting
the currents a little. The vibration
like a string, tangling.
Later, the fish, their speckled bellies
splayed across the flames. Bones
narrow as needles, or the light
between fingers. Do they regret?
Do they remember the sound, the pulse
in the water, quick and powerful
as blood? Or the canoe,
that terrible throat above them,
trailing its wide, white nets
like a prayer—
The physician’s hands move slow
as a mapmaker's, careful,
tracing down the ridges of your spine:
the groove of you
the precision of his touch.
So you come home trembling
from hands that know you
so well. Know
how to isolate pain.
Your cello dips at the core
the way a back dips, smooth,
or an ocean wave.
The wordlessness of it:
strings slim with possibility
wood waxed bright as apple skin.
a wrist held loose
but firm as a cedar branch
cautious with snow,
locating each note by touch
by the slight vibration of a string.
Susan Meyers, a Seattle native, has lived and taught in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Her work has recently appeared in CALYX, Dogwood, Terra Incognita, and The Minnesota Review, and it has been the recipient of several awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship. She teaches writing at Oregon State University.