Irene by Adrienne Raphel

Ballyhooed Irene shakes the clams to the bones.
Borrowed Irene shakes in broken boots.
Bad Irene flaps and flaps and flaps, opens her mouth
under water and gobbles for air.
Belated Irene belly-up on the beach,
blubbering landlubber with eggbeater arms.
Forgetful Irene, or forgotten,
picks up an empty telephone and the canned
forgettable ocean rings in her ear.
Earlier, Irene could float for days,
the way days were counted back then.
Earlier Irene rummages under
the sand for clams. Bad Irene prizes
open the shells, bodies like dead tongues.