Exhortation at Sea

             …emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.
                     -Gaston Bachelard

A cry contracts around teeth and tongue.
We call it word.
We call it please, yes, don’t.
Water stolen from the well.
Are you sad water, lapping against your own edges?
Are you angry water? Do sailors splinter
in your ragged wake?
Take a moment and throw yourself overboard.
Take a moment and compose the wreckage.
Movere, to move, prefixed by
e-, designating externality.
So she emotes, turns inside out.
Weeping works this way.
Laughter works this way too.
             But you, you can dream forever
             and still not remember who I was.
(F. Stanford)
Multiply the beloved x number of times.
Divide the beloved by yourself.
The beloved is constant. There is only
remainder if the lover (that is you) is irrational. (Ha.)
An incomplete idea makes you heartsick
the incomplete idea of the other
you hold in your mind like a skirt
without fabric you pull and pull
as if desire were a sublime act of imagination,
as if the other were a seed planted
inside you and you were merely
cultivating garden. An incomplete idea
like a planetary body eclipsed
and you are the body
and you are the eclipse.

Christina Mengert is the author of As We Are Sung (Burning Deck) and coeditor of 12×12: Conversations in 21st-Century Poetry and Poetics (University of Iowa Press). A contributor to Boston Review, Tarpaulin Sky, Tupelo Quarterly, Web Conjunctions and other publications, Mengert is also an editor, screenwriter, and faculty for the Bard College Prison Initiative.