All in by Kerrin McCadden

by Kerrin McCadden

            What have I lost at sea

                        is a question you insist has an answer,

                                    the gap between flotsam


            and jetsam begging the question

                        about discarding versus truly losing,

                                    and while you explain that flotsam floats


            up from inside and jetsam is

                        introduced into the water,

                                    I think instead about generosity,


            about walking into the bathroom

                        at work and the paper towel dispenser

                                    has already begun its offering,


            triggered in the dark

                        to roll out its dry tongue

                                    before I open the door and switch


            on the light, how one place

                        where the dark is holy and offerings

                                    are made is not the sea, where generosity


            is not a thing but beauty is:

                        the octopus walking on two legs

                                    is beautiful, jet-packing away


            or shrinking into a shadow it makes

                        of itself, countless waving arms

                                    of anemones, the seahorse


            that never seems to tip, 

                        the tiny fans in all the gills,

                                    the moray eels in caves, even the shark.


            I think finding anything in the sea

                        would be impossible. I am not at sea.

                                    I have lost everything here.


Kerrin McCadden’s Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes won the Vermont Book Award and the New Issues Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Award. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, and in American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, and Rattle. She lives in South Burlingon, Vermont.