Tom Sheehan

The Stone Menagerie

What is inordinate
are the hippopotami of rocks
at Nahant,
unblinking, refusing
to mourn themselves;
a half-displaced
surge out of sand as if
they’ve lost their breath
in that terrible
underworld of salt
and constant push.

Their shoulders
beam as smooth as agates
from the iodized wash,
gray pavilions
of armor plate massive
in titillating breezes.

Some are remote,
the unknown at reunions
holding quiet places,
waiting for recognition
in a place in the pool,
a niche in the sun.

Only the sun
enters these huge hearts
and moves them,
only the sun
stirs the core where
memory has upheaval.

But in moonlight,
as the cold year ends down
and sand leaps to lace
as intricate
as six-point stitching,
the broad backsides
become mirrors
and a handful of earthquake
glows at rest.

Bar Harbor Interlude 1

On this graveled morning, wind and wire
are quick partners in Down East melodies,
violent stretch of voices, cloud-high reach
of their alphabet, and rare Elis hurled above
October’s crackling grass.

Raw cries come ambivalent in outward leap
from fence wire stiff as an immovable idea,
and wind, moody as arias or transient as hobos
or gypsies from the arch of Time, touch me
where mornings seep inward, the way

forgiveness moves, slow mounting of steps,
simple knocks at my door. Maine sun-ups need
no introduction to what they toss about, placid
as icebergs, slow and enormous, that fit you
dependable as old gloves you’ve broken in,
or a hunting jacket

hanging beside the back door, a wallet pawed
for years on end, a hammer whose handle knows
your palm with its unspoken arch of intimacy.
Mornings whistle, become covenants with outlandish
trees, quick rivers holding their breath, and all along
the hectic coast blue stones underfoot, trembling,
all day long, trembling.