Calgary Bay on Mull
saltmarsh at Cape May
“The Shell Collector.” (16” x 20” available as a print)
This beach is not for sunbathing,
not at this time of year.
Inland, birds may sing
and hawthorn’s pink tips
froth in the woods, but here
wind makes new partings
in my hair, blows shell-grit
ground by sea-roiling
into my mouth and eyes.
The dunes have swallowed you.
I wade through shifting sand
which sucks and ripples
as I try to follow.
Words are ripped from my mouth.
Where are you? I flounder
think I’ll never find you again
scale sand hills close to crying,
not that anyone would hear me
in this banshee place
of screaming gusts and gulls.
When we find each other
between dips and rises, your calling
and mine, things we dare not say
rise like distant waves,
glitter in cold spring light.
a blue heron wades
through its own reflection –
salt marsh at high tide
windy morning –
a flock of sandpipers
huddle by the dunes
Saltmarsh in October
Small groups of skylarks rise and spiral-soar
and distant curlews keen their plaintive cry.
Runnels and peaty pools reflect the sky.
The wind disturbs the rushes and my hair,
like a new lover’s rough caress – and flings
the gulls about the sky on paper wings.
My feet are silent on the sandy path
save when they step, unheeding, on the black
pods of the pistol-popping bladder-wrack,
strange to my ears – while stretched, before my eyes,
in orange, russet, lichen-yellow hues,
the marshland lies in many-textured bands,
a sampler by a needlewoman’s hand,
its hem a distant estuary-blue.
-Jenni Wyn Hyatt
First published online in ‘The Road not Taken, a Journal of Formal Verse’, Fall 2015