Origin of Sea Nettles
On one of those dark nights so still and clear,
the sea was seized with envy of the stars.
Rising mightily from this little sphere
it hurled enormous waves which gaped to see how far
they were from heaven. But somehow, stars fell--
billions of brilliances, of blazing missiles,
plunged down from the darkness to pierce huge swells
with sudden flash, then endless hindsight. Sizzles
turned salt and trailed such stinging bitterness
the sea wept, flooding its shallowest reaches.
"You see," wheezed the old flounder, "self-pity is
envy's flip side. It's a wonder your beaches
don't know," he gasped, his belly blinded white,
and on his back the havoc of stars that night.
The wake of the Herbert C. Bonner boils
across Hatteras Inlet, flung up
by the boat grinding gorgeous green swells.
The boy, a fat boy, leans back on the rail
and watches the tumbling froth come
to light. Isn't it pretty!? he yells.
No answer. Isn't it pretty!? I smile
and say yes. He looks down at his feet
in yellow rubber flipflops, toenails
white from a week at the beach. This fall
in a classroom he writes: I went on
the Ocracoke Ferry. The seagulls
followed us the whole time. Nobody else
got out of the car. I stood in the back
of the boat where all the water spills
out. It was pretty. Word by word he feels
his way between the pale blue lines. But
where each sentence ends, the gorgeous scrolls
unfurl, the endless plumage of recall
he shares with the Herbert C. Bonner,
and Hatteras Inlet boils.