We heard the surf before we saw it, white
Against blurred gray: a sudden lift,
Muslin brushed aside, and from the mist
An island swam — still indistinct, just roused
From its cocoon of cloud — stretched granite arms
And shook an osprey from a spruce tip. Dazed,
We dropped our sails and anchored for the night.

Next day we walked the island's edge
From rock to rounded ledges,
Like playing leap-frog on the backs of whales
That had been beached so long they wore a pelt
Of tawny-pale, crackle-work barnacles.
Are there more barnacles or stars, I asked,
In the world? You laughed and drew me down
To where a sandy crescent curved
Past cream-and-blood-red roses, to the sea.

Then swimming naked in that stinging broth,
That tongue of arctic ocean,
And later, veined with salt
You kissed up from my breast, I felt
The earth's life like a supple skin
Stretched on the bare bones of the universe.
What we call beautiful is what there is.