from Ballads for the Waking Hour, 1987

I can see you, burnishing in summer sand,
Untouched, undoing, but not unnoticed;
Eyes black jewels, body motionless to sweat,
Cooled by the off-shore breeze.
With one unrehearsed gesture
Throwing silver hair back from a high forehead,
Smile stung by the sun,
Watching a surfer's muscular exit from the sea:

The god who was slain for love
Brought to birth on the rising wave,
Salt scars burning the skin of his shoulders,
Suffering the hazy calm
Before the wind stirs the ocean to roll again.
Prayed through the dusty season
For men with boards walking the horizon.

I hear voices of new men, making another love,
At last together, in days of luck and warmth,
Intoxicated with altered desire, muted inhibition.
To have found a place of security on the earth
And a life in a living paradise
Till heat exhaustion comes.
Prolonging the destiny of someone's face
Until the final hour comes.

Of frightened souls
Wandering aimlessly along busy shores
Too afraid to stop and look.
Will you speak to one of them?
Listen to the fragile beating heart
As it falters, thumps wildly
Inside a guilt-wracked frame?

You're young, handsome and strong
Giving nothing away in voice nor deed
(Save a deep murmur, sensuous and tempting,
And a smile almost teasting).
At times I think you've been here forever:
In echoes of crushed grass, in forest glades.
A whisper of some idol's brushing lips:
"America can break your heart."