I Am Afraid Of My Nothingness Poem by James Niles

I Am Afraid Of My Nothingness

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I am afraid of the ocean, not the
seashore with its magic gifts of shells
and sand-dollars or the bars and
nearness of sliding bodies on poles
but that sea without boundaries
Oh, I’ve seen the seashore erased
by tides and hurricanes, its people and pets
flotsam bloated in stagnant aftermath but
that is blur of ink and the astigmatism of
the reluctant lens in disasters, but erased?

Foolish, erasers on art pencils and charcoal
but the ocean can erase those images, paper
and all unnoticed before a museum door closes
all things go to the bay, no dumping
the starving artists are in the long room
the Remington Room at the Hilton, nothing
greater than thirty dollars, in oil impervious
to erasure above the velvet couch from the
flea market, a seascape, a ship at the seashore
tall, sails full and lanyards medical alerts attached

And so as I sail my craft round the world, with
Balboa, again and again, as I find the spice islands
decked out in my Sunday best I deliver a cargo
to Charleston and sing a hymn but anticipate the
gavel at the seashore near warehouses, shells
carve lot numbers and families are erased within
boundaries of harbors, safe harbors at Rio or New Orleans
I am afraid of the ocean with its myriad mysteries
I am afraid of the ocean without any fences, a good
neighbor that erases me, like two facing mirrors in the dark

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