All We Are Not

Geri Doran

Offshore, beyond the breakwater, past guiding pylons,
where the bottom sand drops to depth and the fog collects
dense and more wet—

there in middle distance, nearer to shore than horizon, farther
than the offing, in the constant in medias res where waves
thicken low and black

and silver above in curls sheared from the surface—
there in movement ceaselessly beating, moon-pulled, savage—
there in the loudest rumble of ocean’s dominion

where water intensifies will, will that governs everything
human by contradiction—all we are not
shaming our infidelities great and small, the nothing-human-at-all

of water surges toward landmass, toward us, as if drawn by some
primordial need of hard, geologic plate for its counterpart:
for movement fast and unrelenting, cognate of the rigid mantle.

And we, honeycombed water vialed in pliant flesh, stand between,
cognate of nothing but the mutable way, ourselves obliging
and obdurate by turns, but never completely, and never for long.

Geri Doran is the author of three books of poetry: Blue Marble, Sanderlings and Resin, which received the Walt Whitman Award. She teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Oregon.
Originally published:
November 1, 2017

Featured

Conversations

Emily Ogden and Dana Spiotta

Reckoning with middle age and complicity
Emily Ogden
and
Dana Spiotta

The Stakes of Dictee

An introduction to a famously difficult work
Ken Chen

Theater of Shame

The rise of online humiliation
Charlie Tyson

You Might Also Like

The Hauntologies of Slavery

On a journey across the sea
Jonah Mixon-Webster

Wildness

Feminism, identity, and the willingness to be defeated
Maria Tumarkin

The Blessing of Kali

Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu

Newsletter

Sign up for The Yale Review newsletter and keep up with news, events, and more.