Two Poems

                      After visiting “Le cimetière marin”

The sensation of licking
salt from my palm
residue of whorled spray

wine-stained trace of sea
lapping the cemetery
cloyful sweet of muscat

grains of rice mounded
between brackish fingers
tea- and nicotine-dyed

transubstantiated body
wounds sand-abraded
cradled in the palm

threadbare shroud
one drop of blood
cast out

upon waves rising, steam-
clouded like incense

the day’s salt plain
upwelling like the pulse
of memory’s contraction

undulating consciousness
dispersing reverie
time engrained

Oklahoma Burning

                       as if the water were a transmutation of fire
                                       – Elizabeth Bishop

What we imagine knowledge to be,
writes Bishop – some thing that’s
flown. Does she mean in flight or flowing

down, a Heraclitan river of change,
or the just-eluded evanescence of what
flits within grasp of our fingertips,

that deluded surety which comes
with stasis? Knowledge not known
but flown, a knowing drawn

from the world’s rocky breasts,
cold hard mouth
more straining than supple,

labials from cracked lips, unslaked,
parched by a flame both deep
within the earth and wheeling,

raptive, sky-torn,
not flowing but drowning,
in this atmosphere –

breathless, bowed down, blown.

DANIEL SIMON ​is assistant director and editor in chief of World Literature Today magazine at the University of Oklahoma, where he also teaches for the Department of English. He is a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, the National Book Critics Circle, and PEN American Center. A Nebraska native, he lives in Norman, Oklahoma, with his wife and three daughters.