The sea hisses at the lifted land;
erases, wave by wave, our footing
and the slap of a flat rain stiffens.
The bay is naming itself Willapa,
inhaling two fathom tides
over insubstantial sand.
Storm surf steepens the beach,
tears out trees, stretches
the grey beach north,
and sends two crab boats down.
The winter, the sea, they do what they want --
slam dance with the headland,
set steel roofs to hum and moan,
drop double-wides into the huge thump
as swells collapse; lick and slice
the westering highway off.
Sand, too transient for maps to name,
and seaward -- shoalwater -- not even ink,
but gaps in charts, accidentals,
the tug of a hidden moon swung hard
against horizons: bathymetry
ceaselessly shifted by great storms.
You are the visible whispering one.
The Brahmin. You are the flush of blood
behind a thin skin of mirrors. Your scales
are small as single notes. Rainbow above all
rainbows, you are jaw and composure.
At sunset your tail is broad. It propels
you up glistening into burning skies,
gills pulsing and nose to the wind as if
it were current. It is
the way wheat-land sunsets burn rivers.
In the flash behind flesh and the blush under
cutbanks, you are the rainbow of horizon,
thunderhead, creek braid and plunge pool.
You are frost turning the sun green.
And buoyed by an aspirated clarity -
all this air within water within air -
you are a towering splash of hunger,
While Asleep at
her bare leg
the lake opens
she takes a frog,
leaves two tracks, then
lifts large with faintest
For Dennis St. Clair and the native archeologists at Tsesha
For nearly 6000 years, the Nuu-chah-nulth
lived in the island lee, hard winds blowing
overhead. Liquid whorls of great whales, fluke
and fin, the winter rain, a village of 800 rising
on shucked shells and charcoal - eight
meters deep when the whites arrived.
Scavenging, crows have followed us
half a mile down the beach. They mutter
old gossip. Their eyes blink without closing.
Storm toss - seal bones; broken, smoothed
kindling; 65 feet of poly rope; and a dozen
plastic bottles emptied of catsup and motor oil.
The old word for grief and the verb