sometimes it’s hard to stay asleep in the presence of all this swelling

coral reaches up,
bone white and
gleaming.

the sea rises,
and yet the coral
reaches up,
bleached.

on our patches of land
we keep ourselves
safe from reach.
we fly flags and
sew patches
onto our outer layers,
identifying ourselves
as member.

remember,
the ship didn’t fail
in its duty,
it was the coral
that reached up,
its thousand tiny hands,
not clinging but
reaching.

on our patches
of land, patches
on our sleeves,
we keep ourselves
safe from the grasp
of the quilted sea.
it need not
swallow us, no,
the coral reaches up,
exposes itself
as bone, fleshless
and of no flag.

cowering, we
squeeze tighter
into our coverings,
shouting our terror
through feeble displays
of courage. a snake
is coiled on a field
of yellow. it does not
hiss, no, it sighs.

the ship has not
sunk, the coral has
reached up to it,
it is bone
white and
gleaming.
it is bleached and
gasping. it is
reaching for the places
it is not expected
to embrace.

we, on our patches
of land, recoil
at the sight of bone,
poking out from
the flesh.
we cannot possibly ask
our ice to melt itself
any faster, to
bring ocean ever higher,
to keep hidden
what we cannot open
ourselves to see.

forfeiting our patches
of land in the process.
we reach for coral
as our footing disappears,
coral no longer
that of the open handed,
it closes itself and
pulls away.

the ships,
still they float.
their masts naked
as bone, wearing
not a flag.

Published by Zak

an intertidal island in an ocean of impermanence.

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