The Ministry of Inside Things

Christopher Pexa


Just below the knees,
the ocean becomes a mirror,
so my feet on this shore
are kept from me, stuffed like keyholes 

in the cabins of old men
with a hideous necktie,
little spoilers for the eye’s night
foraging a room lit by propane,

its hissing a constant exhalation
like the breakers rolling in.
Oh! I’ve confused what I know
about the beach

with that older story
of a banquet hall
through which a swallow flies.
For the rest of its life,

it praises to other swallows
the smell of cinnamon and meat coiling from slits
in a dozen steaming pies.
Memory’s so sexual in its withholdings

it may as well be God.
When my friend on the shore fins
a hand to his forehead,
suggesting the shark about to inhale

my little yellow boat—
in that second of pure belief
I’m a skinny, small boy again,
losing his pale feet

in the green waves. Seeing the fin,
his breathing shudders.
He knows he’s just potential
meat inside the pie.

That a calm like gaslight
falls over everything
before the ocean devours you,
he also knows,

and only a strong sympathy for birds,
their memory turned to singing,
will count as religion
in the country beneath his skin.