If I hold my breath for a million ebbing years

If I hold my breath for a million ebbing years, little oyster
waiting my tables, fighting the tide, swimming to hope
and still I can't open you up, love
I'll marry the fat red tomato
I got from an infatuated farmer who waits pleasantly
with knife and fork, to eat me.
I'll marry the warm brown York, where naked swimming
is like breathing, a priority, and only as dangerous
as the softshell crabs slipping away on the sandy floor of the river.
I'll marry my worn work shirt, stained with Corona and crabcake
and sweat and a little smear of cocktail sauce like a margin.
I'll marry each lonely marine I wait on,
he and I will picture a possible me, painting my toenails
bloodred in a trailer, waiting for him,
for the slippery click of the lock;
knowing it now, we look away.
I'll marry the teasing moon whose bright vowels dance on the water
like the Yorktown Slut, promising everything
sighing, before she slips away
what if, what if.
I'll engage my boss on his boat in thoughts of brastraps
and panties and other wistful trappings
which become, like breathing, a priority.
I'll marry each barnacle I scrub
bare, barely staying afloat,
while the bass slip away past the rockabye boat and the waves whisper
dive under, dive under, seduction is rare,
seduction is hope.
I'll marry the Pub, and slop icecold mugs of beer
onto men whose eyes seem to say that I too, am replaceable.
My sneakered feet will slip, I'll wed the salted floor that way---
slide into the sun and marry the day.
I'll marry the bent mirror in the back
where I pin up my marmalade hair
and stare at lips as red as cocktail sauce
the round everpresent planet of mouth
and fragile freckled arms who miss the man who slipped away.
I'll marry my beautiful brown teacher whose letters,
which say angst is my downfall, I read on the sneak
on a Budweiser box amongst the dead clams and unconsummated lemons
in the back of the Pub; I'll marry my downfall.
And if I fall down a hole as big as the Chesapeake Bay, big as my whole
yummy heart, today's Special of the Day,
I'll marry it.
--- © 1993, Carolyn Creedon

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