Tell Me How You Die

by C. D. Chase

The naked man, Octavio, combs this
pubic beach, watches
patient water rivulet forever seaward.
The seagirl girt in her moistened brown
skin shifts on sand, stretches
lacy legs. She
leans against dead frog-rocks
that wait to crumble, to become sanded
gold or queen's frankincense, One bleak-
black cloud reshifts. They
cannot identify the shape
it takes. The man
with seven dogs
unleashes his feet, running strong, like water
seaward, into false tidal wombs,
into dawns, into doomy
grottos. This
is the emptiness
caught between sand-
grains, the impatient death
by drowning, the name for the girl's
unweepings, "Tell me,
Octavio says, "how you die, and I
will tell you who you are." Collapsing
his paled wings
and aiming, one cold cormorant dives.
The glad gulls call haven.


Title, "Tell Me How You Die" from THE LABYRINTH OF SOLITUDE by Octavio Paz, page 54.