Second Wind

The white of the ocean’s foam-froth is said
to contain all colors, while the sea’s green-blue depths
are composed of the colors our ancestors could
not bear. Or could not bear to let go:
the story varies with the source.
And the shadow that lies on the sea is cast

by no flying or orbiting thing, but by
the ocean floor where it blocks the light
from the sun at the heart of the earth. These things,
however they might terrify, are nonetheless
true. I will hold you through the shivers
and terrors. I will kiss the unholy curve
of your neck. I will try to take your mind

off the shadow. It is the shape of a tree.
There is the brusque sound of the branches as they
caress the wind. Its black silhouette
against the calamitous sunset. The darkness
that lives at its core. What the leaves know
and do not tell the roots. And what the roots know.


Troy Jollimore‘s first book of poems, Tom Thomson in Purgatory, won the National Book Critics Circle award for poetry in 2006. He is an associate professor at California State University, Chico. His most recent book of poems is At Lake Scugog (Princeton University Press). “Second Wind” is one of his two poems published in ZYZZYVA‘s Fall issue.

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