Jean Hartig

[What can I speak, I can only speak it, on my knees.]

O little hooked dress, tiny terry virgins up and down her back.
O sacrificial skin. O veil, o face fragmented in infinite Xs of lace.
Frost net on the lower panes of bent glass overlooking the bay.

O cross how you clasp at the center and still in blond metal.
O cold until her beating warm it. O spoil until her salt preserve it.
Swimmer by the gill-blue sound turned gray. Swimmer

as the warnings whip her. May the ice aisle protect her.
As she enters with her hands the mariners confessional
in venial black. May she pass to the second phase.

As the angel giveth, it taketh away.

* * *

Poem from series The Visitation of the Swimmer.