Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Three at Low Tide

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Three at Low Tide

Article excerpt

I

After rain, he hunches in his anorak

to sweep the beach, run his buzzing disk

across the softened sand. His outstretched wand

jitters like a dowser's or a blind man's,

listens through the crust, sends back

now and then the thrilling whine that signals

some ordinary thing made strange by burial.

II

I sift the sand for bits of glass

dragged out deep then hurled ashore,

in a relentless spiral, useful things

lost overboard or tossed, then rubbed

between the ocean's restless fingers

into these chips, these greens and ambers,

these aquamarines, pinks and teals.

How many months or years of tumbling

soothed their treacherous edges,

suffused their clarity with cloud?

Shot through with cracks and bubbles,

each tablet's inscribed with its small history:

how, earth first, each passed through fire

and into human hands, then plunged

through the water that will hasten it

back into sand. Arrested for a moment

in its trip from stone to vessel

to weapon to totem of sea and time

and, once I release it, to pebble again,

it rests in air, and distills daylight

like fog gone brittle and shattered into bits. …

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