In Refugium Near a Forgotten Coast
Eventide slides lip of river closes over raccoon paths hoofprints left in gray sands upstream it shoulders forestland sinuous miles shoves aside rushes reeds salts marshes stirs broth plankton-laden larva-heavy delicious silty stew of rudimentary life so I thank diatoms not singing vespers barnacles tunicates mute hermit crab tossed his sinistral lightning whelk gone with the inflow to mudflats six miles from the gulf no lonely word chanted quiet settles on the Perdido Rover only one way to hear their voices read starlight reflected in brown refuge waters just before moonrise long before Venus the world goes slack Earth’s deepest breath you take
“The context of everything is everything else.”
Along with millions of disbelievers, I let the Moon prove my undoing. In a case of mistaken identity, I perceived her as a sliver in thinning mist slipping into salt marshes, disappearing in Perdido’s pink light, but it was the whole of her there. Full she somersaulted through the Universe demystified like a bleached sand dollar in a shop window in Lillian a few sluggish miles downstream. In an act of pure silver lunacy, she saw in the Echinarchnius parma on display her former self. When Cybele splashed into the Gulf, no Aesop, no apostle, no poet lived to explain Nature’s direct reprisal for the great neglect of lunar myths. Everyone on the Forgotten Coast forgot. Defying gravity, Earth’s sole satellite hit home. She was my apocalypse.
Breath of Earth made visible, just perceptible with patience for slow sweep of an Alabama river a mile upstream from the estuary, in mist lifting with the sun, its exhalation paced by cloud-cottoned moon, all the better if approaching full, perfect, on the Perdido. Here I could lead you to numerous brackish shores, seat you on a folding canvas chair in fine, gray sand at the ebb, have you remain for a Buddhist’s meditative day. Mullet may jump, kingfishers chatter, longleaf pines bend wind with their silky needles, limbs pliant in soughing prayer. Sit, witness the measured inhalation that brings a few tannic inches of holy water up over your ankles, a baptism of this proper hour, as the great pulse inexorably pulls out to the Gulf of Mexico. Wait. It will return, will dry your feet again for another deeply breathing tide.
Award-winning poet, National Park Artist-in-Residence, and assistant editor and book reviewer at The Centrifugal Eye, Karla Linn Merrifield has had work published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has six books to her credit, including Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry, and her new chapbook, The Urn, from Finishing Line Press. Forthcoming from Salmon Press is her full-length collection Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North, and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica from Finishing Line. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.