Sea Grapes

The landscape does not belong to us
but to the black carpenter bees
plotting the demise of the wooden windchimes,

to the Lazarus jewel boxes
of Vanderbilt Beach, sifted from tidepools
with murex the Romans prized

for its purple dye, and the delicate cup-
and-saucer, and shells called Virgin,
Interrupted, and Lucid.

The Gulf shakes as though someone
were playing Ives under it,
pressing all the pedals at once.

On the day of Nana’s funeral,
Sanibel Island, where we once swam,
is wild again with moon vine

and Woman’s Tongue, bearing
its chalky, lemon-like fruit,
and the sturdy Geiger tree,

and the sea grapes faceted
like amethysts, beneath the
paddle-shaped leaves.


Taylor Altman lives and works as an attorney in San Francisco. She holds degrees from Stanford University, Boston University, and Berkeley Law School. Her work, twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, has appeared in Blackbird, Salamander, and other journals. Her first collection of poems, Swimming Back, was published in 2008.

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