Sonnets by Matt Gesicki '14
after Sonnet 34
I am walking into water, drawn to that far part of the horizon too bright for us to see. The sun like a bowl of loose heat, beginning to drop down. Salt on my skin, lifted
from somewhere near, and the gulls crying out in elegy, borne on their own high music, pale widows in mourning. They linger as I search for him.
His scent is of the sea—salt and the raw flesh of mollusks. He is here, somewhere in all these broken things. A hush in the unfolding surf, a whisper in the crevasse, the sheer scarp. In the old bones of whales, so long since they were like gods.
At my feet the shells split open, deserted as the tomb of Christ—the wails of women echoing, voices spread in a veil over the body, and his wounds still parted, longing to be touched. His hands stretch out. An apostle reaching to touch, to believe, and blood seeping through fingers—
He seeps through my fingers, into my pores. Still I hunt for him in the sea, the soft prayers of this surf breaking over me, speaking his name
on the surface, light shattering in reflection. I kneel, staring at my own body refracted, beginning to break, my body pulled under to the rapture of the sea. In this roughage I am ravished, a woman unclothed of her skin, and the light pouring through me where our bones open—
I would let myself come undone for him. Let my skeleton unclasp, walls of bone eroded so my marrow soaks through. I would let my voice break free, take flight to that far edge of the sky, where on some higher ground it would lie, praying to be opened in his hands, held close to his ear and heeded—
Like the song of the sea in a shell, erupting.
after Sonnets 10 and 89
The day breaks loose and breathless, the sky splits with raw light. I stare at the sun burning itself into a pyre. The light lunges and I am lifted, as if he is here once more, and the far cries of the sea reach me again.
Once, I mapped that edge of the water with him. Together we drifted, searching for ancient things thrown onto shore, afterbirth from the sea. A conch pried open, perfect as the foot of a child, my ear held near so that I sensed the throb of water over earth—like a lifeline, fugue of blood in our bodies, arrested in the pull and drag of the tide.
He held these heartbeats in his hands. Let this instant be suspended.
Yet they fell through his fingers, as water succumbs to that pull through sand—
Once we lay together, cupped like hands. The light was breaking into us, it was breaking our bones through the skin. This is how we would be ruined, he said—how salt and heat would corrode us. How bodies collapse but the voices within remain.
Elsewhere our prayers echoed, emerging from lips of foam, an infinite incantation to break and be gathered. Together we followed that promise, knelt before the crush of surf and let water defeat us. And the surf rushing over, taking shape and bursting white like two swans at midflight—
Let us soar on these long wings, these birds without bodies, vision of flight in a storm of feathers. Their low call, born from our own air, would take us through that blur of heat at world’s edge, where we would burn as one. Where a hundred golden urns pour out the sun, again and again.
after Sonnets 9 and 13
I lie with him at the foot of an eroded cliff, steep walls once touched with water, and reaching, longing in formation. Where an ocean without name lingers, its ebb still in the salted sand.
He holds out his fingers to the light, and draws through my hair the high adornments of the sun. We long to immolate together, our bodies wreathed in fire, possessed in an inferno. To be ashes, burned high to the air and then fallen onto earth.
As we wander here I hunt with him, for other things that were forsaken, that pray to be opened again. The skeleton of a coelacanth—like the flesh of a god, he said, this beast that was old when Christ was born. Or whorls of calcite shaped like ventricles, so delicate
as I reach for them, praying that they hold shape at my touch, not brim over into ash and be strewn as we will be—
Somewhere life is here, these crustaceans so long ago turned to stone, still swirling at our fingertips—
Once he dug out a fossil, water still trapped in its coil—older than all the seas in our world, he said. When water claimed the earth—long reefs like continents, and the plates that drifted beneath, fissuring to the surface. Rifts in earth like bodies of lovers calcified.
This is how we would come asunder. Like martyrs in a mural, the breaking open of the body on a wall of light, yielding to the fire. Here we would surrender to the instruments of death in our hands, wings swept out in flight. For this we would be disemboweled—that plunge of bone through skin and the blood flooding, testifying for us—
This is my body. This is my blood. Let me be given unto him.