American Muse: Valerie Martinez

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“The Reliquaries”

Seaside, and the fragment of one running—
calves, ribs, green eyes into water.
There he goes. Waves. Buoying up
as into sky. And the seagulls fly,
seeing it as relief, a story. Once

they were there, two on a white blanket.
The circumference of a shadow.
Sunlight around that shadow.
The relation of two: bathers,
robed figures configured as one.
And she touches him—tender—and it is done.

(I’ve gone back to it. I’ve, I’ve—
it’s not where I am. I give it away again.)
You’re there. It’s still in the sand.
It’s trying to chisel it in.

How it comes forth: the story.
Wanting it, carving it down to vision.
Architecture, a coliseum of bent light,
the beautiful scatter of broken stones.
(And I can turn it into stones.)
Love, love: a portico, a labyrinth.

And his simple aquatics, legs and arms
in the brackish, etched against white fish.

The song, under there, of how he’ll leave,
and naturally, like all living things:
animals, summer, daylight for the eves.

And the buildings, all shadows and beings:
block, angels, curves. With the love,
memory of all loves. The pediments,
these reliquaries.

It’s our landscape, artifact—it might hurt.
(Run to, run away from it.)
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