At Innsmouth Harbor

The catalog of jetsam —
things washed ashore at Innsmouth:
a gnawed-through baby rattle; five
matched silver spoons of serpentine design;
a multitude of basalt pebbles, each
a perfect copy of its brethren, angled
obtuse with the hint of an eye,
black and unseeing (on the obverse,
an alien cuneiform, unreadable),
coins all of an unknown empire;
the rusted machinery of lost umbrellas
(from where since no one ever in Innsmouth
has ever owned or needed one);
clots of dank seaweed and curds of ooze
astir with phosphorescent pulsings;
a human skeleton, a chain, a cinder block;
blue bottle labeled tincture of laudanum,
wrapped in soft velvet with an ivory carving,
priapic secret of a ship captain’s widow;
an octopus impaled with the periscope
of a German U-2 submarine; a map
of the New England coastline inscribed
entirely in Runic letters; a trident,
vertical, twelve feet from top to bottom,
awaiting whoever dares to claim it;
and finally, as always, coats, hats and trousers,
all manner of ladies’ gowns and negligées
cast off on the rocks at Devil’s Reef,
all for the taking if anyone cares.
There is no catalog of flotsam, no list
of the things that will not come to shore:
the ten-lobed all-seeing eyes of the ghosts
of Trilobites, mandarins of the ocean deep;
the wary, watchful ammoniac waiting
of Architeuthis, the giant squid; the pound
and beat of the tide-drum, counting all down
to the world’s end, the sun’s death, the pull
of all into the dark heart of the iron stone
where everything that was and will be comes to rest.


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