A VIEW OF THE SEA
T. J. MCLEMORE
The city longs to let the world grow into it
when we are gone. To be like a lichen
on a south-facing granite cliff, a seam
of coal, a coral reef in a shallow sea.
I too like to imagine what I might become
given enough time and pressure.
A thousand programmers dream along
with my recurring dream, light it up
in binary glory to pull me inside
night after night, hoping to make myself a hero
in someone else’s story. In my dream
vines reach up to seize the skyscrapers,
pry out their windows and invade
their vents, turning them to scaffolding
in time-lapse, dragging at them like a kid
hanging from her dad’s belt. I wander into the wreck
wearing leather skirts, paint streaking
my bare arms, passing things that have outlasted
any use or meaning. A toilet bowl
full of soil, turning waste to riches
since the pipes are rusted shut. A PC tower
as flowerpot, an oven as racoon den, the bolt
of every locked door ripped through its frame.
I climb story to story, salvaging what I can—
a scarred steel dog bowl to mold into a helmet,
the wooden seat of a chair to whittle flat
into a slaughtering board, a hen-
of-the-woods sprouting from the rotting
carcass of a couch to take back and fry
for my kids and neighbors who wait
in camp on a cut bank of the big river,
over a slight rise with a view of the sea.
—after Horizon Zero Dawn
Listen to "Olalla" by Blanco White, selected to accompany T.J.'s work, below:
T. J. MCLEMORE is the author of the chapbook Circle/Square, winner of the 2019 Autumn House Press chapbook contest (AHP, 2020). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, Crazyhorse, The Adroit Journal, 32 Poems, Prairie Schooner, LitMag, The Common, and other journals. Individual poems have been featured on Poetry Daily, selected for Best New Poets, and nominated for the Pushcart Prizes. McLemore is a doctoral candidate in English and environmental (post)humanities at the University of Colorado Boulder.