Three Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

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

Lost

“The context of everything is everything else.”
—Wendell Berry

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.

River Sutra

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.

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Two Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

The Lullaby

On the day of the three dolphins
with no other premonition I could feel
this page of paper simply disappeared
& my pen began speaking aloud as if
it had intended to do so all along.

Several moments, present upon present
times elapsed, until my ear acclimated
to song, a pure song of some few birds
whose voices I have painfully learned
through perhaps years of familiarity.

Let me say it was more an evening psalm,
a whispering of vespers in cooling, still air.
Or maybe it was more a lullaby because
I became lulled, slowed, stopped, listened.
I stood until light dimmed, & I listened

Gulf Coast Sutra

celedon seas     this ebb
clouded time     grasp
of moon beginning
to wax gentle      invisible
by afternoon light
soft     gray     flat mask
hides the sun     one
ring-billed gull     one dolphin
cresting up     eying the peninsula
the one woman kneeling
one willet     one sanderling
grab cautious glimpses
twitter     skitter     dip dip
quick bows to wet sand
well aware one gritty valve
of Atlantic cockle dribbles
salt water poured by low waves
one quiet secret
susurrus of surf     knowing
as horseshoe crabs do
Earth turns only so quickly

rise     go among broken shells
behold white pelicans
starting their journey north
spring’s neap nears
one tide at a time

A recent “Best of the Net” nominee, five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had poetry appeared dozens of publications as well as in many 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. Currently in the works is a book of technologically themed poems, The Gizmo Girl’s Diary, as well as an application for a second National Park Artist Residency. She was founding poetry editor of Sea Stories (www.seastories.org), and is now book reviewer and assistant editor for The Centrifugal Eye (www.centrifugaleye.com) and moderator of the poetry blog, Smothered Air (http://smotheredair.yuku.com/). She teaches at Writers & Books, Rochester, NY. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com. She resides in part-time in Kent, NY, and winters in North Fort Myers, FL.