Emma Kruse

On first looking into the Pacific Ocean

I imagined it like Homer in Keats:
  bottomless, brash, planetary.
  In the pools of Cortez’s eyes, a scary
wild surmise brought on by serene peace.
I’d seen drawings in books – creased
  pages dripping from shelves at the library –
  crystalline blue, not like algal Huron, airy
surf swallowing up sand and everything east.
The Pacific was none of this.
  Instead, it was all glass houses, caged
cliff rocks, balcony crammed crevices,
  rowdy beaches, and dull, bruised beige.
The waves were tamed by breathless
  panic streaming down the PCH.


Magellan only saw cerulean
               and his boat saw no blue at all.

I’m learning colors in bits, like

                subway station mosaics

streaking slowly, then all at once.

                I ask him to circumnavigate me

and he names me cello

                calls me winter melon and marvels
in the candelabra freckles on my back.

I ask him why he picked

                the globe. Why not Saturn
                or Alpha Centauri? I want to
understand the trench Mariana,

commune with the spotcheck

                 stargazer. Microbes
deserve attention.

My explorer, he slept

                  with spices, he probed
celestial clouds for direction.

En route to Ascension Island he

                  forgets me, I’m learning to be Atlantic.


Emma Kruse is a poet from Grosse Pointe, Michigan. For the last two years, she lived on the Navajo Nation in rural New Mexico teaching high school history. A graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, she now is an MFA candidate at NYU and lives in Brooklyn.