The Tensile Strength of Grace

                                                —Pulse gay nightclub shooting
                                                           Orlando, June 12, 2016

It goes like this:

Dawn air tense
as I press against the sand,

abrasion my release and reminder:

Then: By what right do I
inflect such loss as though it were

my wholeness torn asunder

Grief swelling like the jagged
bit of damned that is

no hand in the horror but comfort,

the pulse I can still call my own,
as though the infinitesimal

mass of a pronoun

might divert the chemical truth:
It goes like this:

Mist shrouding

the trees on the bluff,
just enough to make me sense

what I cannot see — beauty,

by virtue of its absence,
the stain on this morning:

The way the dogwood, bereft

of its riotous surge, feathers
into otherness, into spaces

as beyond me as the cry

that ten minutes earlier
split my lips: It goes like this:

I am straining to stay,

to swim this particular stream of now
before now is no longer,

before God give me any drug but this

resumes its vigilance
& I am lost to the currents

that feed every harbor

but the one where I can actually
feel: Valor

as piercing as the treachery

of a haven that suddenly
held none, of the assailant

whose heart could only translate

anguish into anguish: Last
comes the skin

that pins itself to the conscience:

My wholeness is torn asunder,
even as the bodies that surrender

to the soft Orlando earth

know nothing of my grief:
It goes like this: