I Watched at Low Tide Your Breasts Rise

I watched at low tide your breasts rise.
I watched every effort that your made
to be beautiful, for me. Even though
I was a stranger, your body moved
for me alone, like the hope
that moved behind the mirror
that did not find you beautiful at all.

What a strange thing, that longing
to be beautiful, the sweet pretense
and secret weeping, the doubt inside
that rose against the right you had
to boldly wear that pink bikini
and walk alone on what you thought
was sand deserted.

At what age did you know—
for certain—that you
never would be beautiful,
never shine yourself
into the poems of lovers,
never have the sultry bliss
that beauty by itself can bring.

I took you home in thought
that moment by the sea,
and lived a life with you,
you homely face casting its desire
each winter night by candle,
your body arched
in clumsy grace and love.

But I did not tell you this.
I did not speak at all,
pondering your sweet attempts
to bend and search for shells,
to move with all the sensual delight
your awkward dreams
could teach you.

Now, months later, this autumn night
in Colorado, I write this awkward
poem for you—some clumsy art
I struggle with—because
that longing in you
was so beautiful and pure
it touched this tired heart.

--James Tipton