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Elegant Decay – Poem by Linda Parsons

Blue upon blue of my own Great Smokies,
last swim in Varadero’s opal waters, nearly
waveless, at least farther out, bobbing

with Canadians, Austrians, the Dutch,
an easy suspension on Cuba’s glassy coast.
I’m out early, before leaving the Matanzas

Province, before the heat and simmer.
I’m traveling while my legs and spine
are upright, while my pilgrim heart still

yearns for time out of time, to be imprinted
with paraíso. I’m traveling before my own
elegant decay, the stuccoed Plaza de la Catedral

I so admired washed to bone by sun and salt,
a slow death more stunning than perfection.
Swimming done, I come in at the wrong point,

the hieroglyphed outcrop of stone, unable
to shift in the force of surf. The lifeguard
sees my distress, pulls me from the rocks,

my hip and foot already colors of the Cuban
flag. Even under turquoise skies, floating
turns to slippage and stumble, as much

the sought horizon as a thousand blues.
My small revolutions tell me I’m alive,
in the miles flown here, this buoyant shore.

A honeybee struggles in the sand.
Before I can lift it on a limpet shell,
it’s swept out and out.

Image credit: Varadero Beach (Tripadvisor)

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