Fogblind


By Clara McLean

Grey has a heft
on north coast days
of lyric blankness
as we forge
into the blur, walking
its bluffs, melting into each new
moment with an animal
trust, not knowing
what's coming. The grey
could be anything.
Tsunamis might hulk
on its muslin-sheet
horizon, vast bed
on which no visible
figures toss,
only the faintest crease
denoting the grade
of element to element.
The mist connects us in
its web of infinite droplets,
divides us too sometimes
as we fumble
for the path around slick points
that rear through it the way
a whale's steel slices
the surface of the water,
its breath waving a
truce flag at the monochrome,
and your familiar back
the lone shape by which I might guide
my steps. I wonder if I might
palm the sun
enfeebled and pearl-like in its cotton
casing. There is a sense
of infinite in the limited,
an unexpected universe
revealed by veils. 
And you keep winking in
and out of it, ahead
on your own way,
and I'm reminded of walking
the labyrinth at Sibley
when we kept brushing
past each other, separately
wending its clefts until, bogged
in a muddy section,
we both stepped briefly on the rim,
touched each other's shoulders once
for balance,
then kept walking. 
The sea drives its grey fist into the rocks.
The tearstained landscape holds its
gauzy compress. We round the next
bluff and I've lost sight of you again,
the head of a seal, slate among
the dove and opal,
submerged again, the landscape
nothing but that shifting
opacity, and we have been walking
for hours, and I didn't realize
you had turned back
until we were almost touching. 
The moment fishtails.
The new real is always
around the corner, and we sink
into it, the wind gives up its steam
to concrete, ember, cinereal,
the color of the brain.  
We tread in hypotheticals.
I've had to learn that curiosity
may be opposite of doubt,
so that a promise
can be made in all of its uncertainty
with eyes open.
Meanwhile this grey Salome
baptizes us in veils, 
flying gauze in our faces
as the skirt of the break
sweeps the cloudline, and we walk
into a changed world
of oyster
and pearl.


Clara McLean lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She draws inspiration from her teaching and walking practices, from the stories around her and the impossibility of telling them. Earlier poems have appeared in Berkeley Poetry Review, OccidentSouth Coast Poetry Journal, and Turnstile