Back to Issue Eight.

Proof of Heaven



In my father’s retelling
of the talk, a stork wanders a beach

searching for an oyster. He wants
its pearl. And after he takes it,

after the oyster has finished
resisting, he cannot put it back.

I’m not thinking of sex.
I’m thinking of the parable

of the merchant who seeks
the kingdom of heaven and finds

it is a pearl of great price.
Or the dream where my cousin

comes back from the beach
where he killed himself

wet and smelling of salt.
I return to this cove where the sand

forgets its pattern to find
the soul, pale and baroque,

but I don’t—Oysters swarm my feet
with their open, vacant mouths.


Jacques J. Rancourt was raised in Maine. His poems have appeared or will appear in New England Review, Kenyon Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Colorado Review, among others. He is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.