“Manifest”

POETRY by Kendel Burdeaux

 

One evening ere I saw the dawn,

The present dawned on me;

To gain respite from inward strife,

I felt that I must leave.

 

The impetus for such a choice

Could hardly be disclosed;

Suffice to say, I went this way

For silence and repose.

 

A slow and weary falsity,

Had worn away in me

All my well-built, centered stillness,

Leaving me but ill at ease.

 

Such nagging sense of derelict

Stole all my energy,

So I left off at once for the sea,

To dwell in thought and breeze.

 

I brought no letters with me, nor

Possessions of past times,

Such abandonment to signal

My commitment to clear mind.

 

A small boat made a tiny home,

But met my needs quite well.

Drifting along, I mused in song,

Till to a trance, befell.

 

I turned the oars, I turn again,

As though bewitched by spell;

Remiss of time and self-confined,

I deep breathe salty smells.

 

———

 

My skin is speckled with small beads

Of moonlight trapped in sweat.

The air feels heavy on my chest,

Compressing every breath.

I see myself reflected through

A cloudy medium,

As dewy dagger droplets form

Distended water balm.

 

A dark, faint shape opposite me

Sits silent and relaxed.

Whether She’s phantom or concrete

I am not sure, for fact.

 

She does not talk, She may not hear,

A sense, perhaps, She lacks.

But one thing, yes, I can discern;

When I stare—She stares back.

 

Is She a figment of my mind,

A mist made manifest?

Should I feel fear or comfort now

That solitude has left?

 

———

 

A wave-slave of the sea salt spray,

I shrink not from her touch,

But feel throughout a numbing buzz:

Then cold—in sudden rush.

 

As She leans in to me, She sprays

Snow kisses with her breath.

Her pallid limbs envelop me;

She utters “Shibboleth.”

 

Except this lone word, she is mute,

Nor can I make reply;

Unable to select a word,

I settle for a sigh.

 

The sea seems to be cross with me,

The shadow stalks my mind.

She tosses me about, without

Revealing what she finds.

 

Her firm and icy fingers force

My stillness with her grip.

Frigidity feels dismal and

Paints blue upon my lips.

 

I try, though I am held so tight,

To cry in consternation,

Forgetting I am frozen fast,

I drown in desperation.

 

She thinks, perhaps, I might contain

Some hint or clue or trace

Of origin, or history,

Of sentiment misplaced.

 

Not finding what she seeks to grasp,

She suddenly abates;

But knows another way to seek

The plot of my escape.

 

I feel her sting begin to ease

Her ice grip slow to thaw,

I meet her eyes and am undone—

I fear she knows it all.

 

The shadow mist holds hands with me,

And ushers out my thoughts.

I sense them as I see them flee,

But chase after them not.

 

The emptier that I become,

The warmer do I feel,

Until at last, to clear my mind

She offers me a deal.

 

———

 

I know not now how I first did come

To call this boat my home.

I think I once did live on land,

Surrounded, though alone.

 

The shadow shape now, too, is gone

And I float forth in mist.

I wonder was She ever here;

Will she rejoin my drift?

 

The memories I think are mine

Are now long lost at sea,

As hazy as the evening night

When first She came to me.

 

To anchor now would be all wrong,

My sails are all my own.

And here among the waves I’ve found

That I prefer alone.

 

As I row forth into the brume

My thoughts, they slip from me.

They come and go, as do the waves,

And I become the sea.

Kendel Burdeaux (MAPH ’13) is artist, reader, and thinker. Before MAPH, she completed her undergraduate work in Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She currently does rescue work with a non-profit, no kill animal shelter, Second Chance SPCA, in Plano, Texas. In her spare time, she likes to hang out with her 8 year-old Norwegian forest cat, Byron.