Black oystercatcher. Black-necked 

stilt. A patch of gnats

lifts off at my feet. Mudflat. Rot

and salt. The great egret

doubled on the water. Stick legs

bending. Approaching, my husband

in a silver canoe. Dragonflies,

kinked reeds. Something about vows.

Wreathing my head, the split light.

When I place one hand in the water,

striders collect at my wrist. Tattoo

of the eagle, the braided

leather string. Killdeer will feign

a broken wing to distract

from the nest. Golden plover. Common

snipe. Old lover who cut off all

his hair and mailed it. Shiny

as bottleflies. Kept in my desk.

And whose ring is this? Whose

feather, whose expanse of skin?


come to the end of the wharf

when the last of the tide releases

the harbor with its trollers

and rigging   its lampshells

and speckled anemone   come

after work when the mind

has grown plumes   delicate

as tubeworms in the driftwood

in the sponge and scarlet

blood star   tough as tongues

as the sea whip   clicking

here is the hornmouth and wentletrap

and chiton and quahog and cockle

and wrinkle of the human knuckle

that rim inside the human eye

here   a thin film   an eyelid

an iris surrendering its pupil


Two Poems