“La tristesse durera toujours”
—poetry by Adaline Long

As a child I dropped my lace hankie in the sea
I traced it in the stars that night,
connecting the dots by squinting till they blurred,
moving my head till it fluttered like a white butterfly, as shadowless
as waterlogged, broken-winged on the rocks
what’s it like? I said
you know, you said, then words fail you as

you drift for time innumerable
time’s immeasurable in the immemorial sea
waves should pass in moments but have no watchdog clock, so snarl
and snicker in a spray of salt and slap down only
a
particle at a time so that
lifetimes
of saltwater flow in your eyes
before you are
crushed.
Picasso may as well have said, “la mer durera toujours”,
for it has taken away even the wings your little girl gave you.
I want to sink, you said - to be anything
but a restless shadow on the epidermis of a sea I will never
sound the depths of
You cannot sound the depths,
but I tell you that years hence when the sea of stars
is parted
when rioting smoke in black-plumed migration pulls the sky like a magnet
to ground
when fleets of shadows sear the roots of earth
and baptize you in fire
when volcanic sunset billows in the west,
you will choke on breath from lungs you’ve forgotten you possess as you see
there in the sunlight
the shadow of a little girl you once were, and shudder that you
like the waves
forgot that time could pass

High up you will see the husks of old shadows spark
and bloom like flaming meteors
wished on and
ash-purged.


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Adaline Long is a previously unpublished poet in NYC. Her work has received seven recognitions from Scholastic Writing Awards.