about the author

Richard Georges’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Prelude, Smartish Pace, sx salon, The Puritan, The Caribbean Writer, Wasafiri, and elsewhere. He is the author of the collection Make Us All Islands (Shearsman, 2017). He lives and works in the British Virgin Islands.

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Richard Georges

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I once tried to hold the ocean
in my hands, in a glass

in the past, the sea
would grind the bones

of slaves, of sailors
into sand. Even the sand

can be lessened. Like us
when cold water pushes past

lips, teeth, tongue, throat,
into lungs, and all is filled cold.

The ocean is a universe.
An abyss consuming even light in its depth.

What word? What voice moving
over its dark currents?

In my glass, the ocean is radiant,
is effervescent, a mouth tracing the body.

I want to roll an ocean
into a ball in my hands.

I want to hold it up to my eye,
to search for imperfections I know are not there.

I map Africa. America.
Europe. Asia. Continents like

opposing parentheses enclosing nothing
except the histories of too many people.

A broken book of poems,
stanzas falling like shards.

Oceans slip out of me,
Middle Passage, Kala Pani.

I parted your legs and between them
I discover another ocean.

There is an ocean between us
I cannot cross like my ancestors did

And so we all remain. Divided.
Like the shores of islands.

I held an ocean in my mouth,
its cresting waves tickled my palate,

my tongue oared its waves
but I could go nowhere.

The ocean between us has
swallowed the ground, swallowed the sky,

and all of this is only water.

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