Walking, No Longer Your Patient

Jill M. Allen

—To Marilyn

A decade after we burned through the mysteries
and you taught me cartography’s other dark

arts, I dreamed of you coming for a garden tea,
then held buoyant in the Gulf, your hair and muslin gown

sweeping across my arms. Today we’re walking
for an hour like old friends, dangerously

pink in the white noon and unprotected
from the Atlantic wind that carts away what isn’t

necessary or affixed. We’ve been wrecks,
divers and witnesses at the altar of what gets buried,

what surfaces. You gather shells. They will sleep
in your office, chilled fists of moon on the window sill.

Their names offer small comforts: banded tulip,
whelk, olive, periwinkle, shark-eye.

What extraordinary creatures once lived
in the homes we collect?