Sea Burial


John Ciardi

Through the sea's crust of prisms looking up

Into the run of light above the swellm,

And down a fathom, down a fathom more

Into the darkness closing like a shell.

Oblique, like fall of leaves down the wet glide

Of season and surrender from the tree

Of life across the windows of a wind

To the final ruined lawn beneath a sea—

Glide, glide and fall. How lightly death goes down

Into the crushing fog, pale and refracted.

Seen dimly and then lost, like jellyfish

Flowering a tide, expanded, then contracted,

Once more expanded, and then closed forever

To make a stain on stone and liquefy

The memory that kissed a mountain girl

And ran on grass as if it could not die.


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