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 now

before now is no longer,
before God give me any drug but this

resumes its vigilance

and I am lost to the currents
that feed every harbor

but the one where I can actually

feel: Valor
as piercing as treachery,

the haven that suddenly

held none, an 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: