for R.J.

The smell of snow, stinging in nostrils as the wind lifts it from a beach
Eye-shuttering, mixed with sand, or when snow lies under the street lamps and on all
And the air is emptied to an uplifting gasiness
That turns lungs to winter waterwings, buoying, and the bright white night
Freezes in sight a lapse of waves, balsamic, salty, unexpected:
Hours after swimming, sitting thinking biting at a hangnail
And the taste of the—to your eyes—invisible crystals irradiates the world 
“The sea is salt”
“And so am I” 
“Don’t bite your nails”
                                             and the metal flavor of a nail—are
           these brads?— 
Taken with a slight spitting motion from between teeth and whanged into place
(Boards and sawdust) and the nail set is ridged with cold
Permanently as marble, always degrees cooler than the rooms of air it lies in 
 Felt as you lay your cheek upon the counter on which sits a blue-banded cup 
 A counter of condensed wintry exhalations glittering infinitesmally 
A promise, late on a broiling day in late September, of the cold kiss 
Of marble sheets to one who goes barefoot quickly in the snow and early 
Only so far as the ash can—bang, dump—and back and slams the door: 
Too cold to get up though at the edges of the blinds the sky  
Shows blue as flames that break on a red sea in which black coals float: 
Pebbles in a pocket embed the seam with grains of sand 
Which as they will have found their way into a pattern between foot and bedfoot 
“A place for everything and everything in its place” how wasteful, how wrong 
It seems when snow in fat, hand-stuffed flakes falls slow and steady in the sea 
“Now you see it, now you don’t” the waves growl as they grind and roll out