XXX


Like as the wave makes toward the pebbled shore
And kisses it, so does her lustful customer kiss
The blistered whore, heedless of the risk of herpes,
Temporarily insane and then, after the sweetness
Of yielding, possessed by an equal giddiness
Retreating. So too the wave retires down the beach,
Rearranging all those pebbles, but then, as though
Not satisfied with that arrangement, returning
To kiss them again. So might a miser kiss
The gold doubloons and louis d'or spread like butter
On the English muffin of her bed. Then, as that miser
(Think of Zazu Pitts in her final scenes in Greed)
Must restore her treasures to their trove, so does the sea
Rescind its outreachings, only upon consideration
To resume its kisses, as lovers do, unwearying, or
Even if wearying, renewing them anyhow the way that
Landlords must renew their tenants' leases, whether
They will or no, being compelled by laws they did not make
And cannot break, though they may (as ours has once again)
Take them back temporarily. The leases, that is, not the laws
Or the kisses, which are, as bottles once, non-returnable,
And which still along this pebbled shore accrue
Like interest to an IRA account compounded daily
In some microchip, its own small sea of data surging
In bits and bytes and MicrosoftTM electric kisses
Of X and O, yes and no, stop and go, high tide
And low–which, as the moon is full, will come tonight at six,
When I in my high rubber boots with my little plastic bucket
Will once again be out on the beach, a sea-maddened
Tourist hunting for agates in the shingle, fleeing
The ocean's kiss and feeling, as I flee, its tingle.


                                                 –from MCMLXXXIV


Tom Disch, Yes, Let's: New & Selected Poems, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.