One Hundred White-Sided Dolphins on a Summer Day

black, slick,
galloping in the pitch
of the waves, in the pearly
fields of the sea,
they leap toward us,
they rise, sparkling, and vanish, and rise sparkling,
they breathe little clouds of mist, they lift perpetual smiles,
they slap their tails on the waves, grandmothers and grandfathers
enjoying the old jokes,
they circle around us,
they swim with us—
a hundred white-sided dolphins
on a summer day,
each one, as God himself
could not appear more acceptable
a hundred times,
in a body blue and black threading through
the sea foam,
and lifting himself up from the opened
tents of the waves on his fishtail,
to look
with the moon of his eye
into my heart,
and find there
pure, sudden, steep, sharp, painful
that falls–
I don’t know-either
unbearable tons
or the pale, bearable hand
of salvation
on my neck,
lifting me
from the boat’s plain plank seat
into the world’s
unspeakable kindness.
It is my sixty-third summer on earth
and, for a moment, I have almost vanished
into the body of the dolphin,
into the moon-eye of God,
into the white fan that lies at the bottom of the sea
with everything
that ever was, or ever will be,
supple, wild, rising on flank or fishtail–
singing or whistling or breathing damply through blowhole
at top of head. Then, in our little boat, the dolphins suddenly gone,
we sailed on through the brisk, cheerful day.
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