You ask me
what I would write in a message
to be placed in a bottle
and sent to sea: what would I say,
to whom would I want it said?
I say to you:
will be governed by
process. To answer that
I must know
the bottle’s color, heft,
I must know how it will be
stoppered against filling
dissolving into the ocean
long before reaching
its addressee. I must know
on what kind of paper
I am to write,
with what I am to write —
and where am I to be
when I toss the bottle to sea
in an act
or hope or pure
ridiculous artistry, which
can be all of the above
if need be. Tell me enough
to go on if you can’t say it all
or if you don’t know it all and I
will write it all down, every word of it
for as long as it takes to tell.
I’ll sit here with the pen and the paper.
I’ll fold and roll the pages when done.
I’ll answer your question then, hand you the
pages, hold the bottle
as it dawns on you what has just happened.
Will you laugh or will you cry? I don’t care.
Content is determined by process,
after all, and process is my job, my only job.
I think sometimes it is the only job there is.