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At Villeneuve-les-Maguelone

On this strung-out strand where once the Saracens raided
and the bishop defended, now only surf whirs in—
tumble, soothe, and seethe of waves at a slow boil.
We lie motionless and cracked as driftwood.
Middle age has tossed us here. Salt sears each wave,
sand crusts your eyebrows and the rim of each ear,
and the sun licks hunch-backed breakers with a tongue of fire.

Hypnosis of foam: the surf sounds endless.
Nothing is endless. The cathedral of Maguelone
hulks, a battered shell on a wind-roughed island.
Seagulls perch on the rafters in the shadow of cypress.
And if we two, sprawled below on the sand, are burned
and offered, it is to no god we will name
and the sea that lulls us is spelling its own end.

Yet we are given. For now, day is suspended,
a kiss is a salt mirage in smitten air,
the brush of your hand on my hip a tremor of sunburn.
I could see you, but instead I turn my head,
glance up, and the whole sky hurtles down—and where
we were, we aren't: just a long horizontal seizure
of aquamarine. Tide spittle. The shuddering shore.

Rosanna Warren

The Kenyon Review

Summer 2012

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