Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lopez Island, WA

I wrote this poem following a Memorial Day weekend on Lopez Island in the early 1990's. It has been worked and reworked over the years, but it never found a home in the pages of any of the lit mags I sent it to. I really don't much about the shipwreck that we saw, and no one in town was able to tell me the story.
















[Photo of Lopez Island]


Lopez Island

low tide: steep slope of shore
washed smooth
in morning light, a sandpiper
skitters from spot to spot
snatching insects near water's edge

down the beach
dark heavy wood,
the front of a hull, thick
with barnacles and algae
growing from fertile pulp

a heron balances where rusted metal
once secured the prow against storms
and heavy waves, a fishing vessel,
likely, though the history
seems unimportant

intriguing, the way ocean conceals
then exposes a fragile secret
to sunlight, reveals the bones --
living things feeding
on the corpse -- only
to reclaim the secret
later in the day

as the heron lifts to air,
a loss of balance
as my eye follows its flight
through clear bright sky,
stark winds carving
into granite cliffs, the heron
disappearing amid spruce
above the beach

and a hidden thing
has revealed itself: rotting body
of a ship bared to sun

or black cormorants circling
in a dream where my body
is naked, standing in moonlight,
wondering what secret is hidden
beneath smooth surface of skin,
what secret is sourced in depths
where I once felt at home,
tide rising over my knees
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