The things in the sea

Two things in the sea
We came to see,
One, the great No,
Monumental and black,
And one, the white Yes,
Lucid and clear.
We stood in the mouth,
The world at our back,
To hear the things speak.
Two things in the sea
We came to hear,
The drums of the No
And the hush of the Yes.
We stood in the ear
Of the world at the sea
And whispered our wish
And wished it would hear.
Two things in the sea
We came to taste,
The salt of the No,
And its bitterness, Yes.
We stood in the hand
Of the world on the beach
And counted our lives
In mouthfuls of sand.
We went there to ask,
To see for ourselves,
The puzzle that rises
In seeing the sea —
The curtain of sky
And stage of the sea,
The speech of the tide,
The quandary of being.
Two things in the sea
We came to see —
To see the great No,
To see the white Yes,
Their drums and their hush,
Their salt and their sand.
It did not show
Or speak; it did not
Hear, or care to know,
What wish we had,
What pain we bear;
It did not answer
To our fears, though
The things in the sea
Were moving there,
Beneath the foam
And grey, they neither
Let out any word, nor
Sent us on our way.

Originally published in Perseverance Poets’ Collection 1991-92, 1992