WHERE CURRENTS MEET
Cattle Point, San Juan Island
See? Even at slack water a churn
of contradictions. Stay back, instinct
instructs. But from here, more beauty than danger.
Water is its own gravity, light
itself a lure. Lean into the patterned
motion, ripples to the north, standing waves
to the south, the steady shove—
toward what? Nothing here
is expected to make sense—contrary
intentions, even the charts
predict this. An improvisation
under the surface, revealed
by the interplay of light—
water with texture. Whatever invites attention
prayer enough for now. You could wait your whole
life for sense to take shape. Does it matter
from here, whether those are seals or
bull kelp? Keep looking.
LEAVING THE ISLAND
ferry from Orcas to Anacortes
Mist-colored knots of sea glass. A moss-clot
cadged from the trail’s edge. The truce
fished word by word from beneath the surface,
still unspoken. We carry what we found
what we made there. Three days you and I
let the currents direct our course, slept
on cool sand, let woodsmoke flavor us.
What’s left? Slow travel over cold water.
Toward home and days ordered by clocks
instead of tides. We watch through salt-scarred
windows, hoping the dark shapes will rise
beside us, will grace us. We know too well
what can’t be willed, only missed
if we look away too soon.
Don’t offer opiates.
Lay me naked in the ocean’s
Hammock, still awake enough
to know myself her own.
Feet on her salt pillow,
hands at last with nothing
to grasp. For once I’ll
an event’s full force.
I don’t want to miss
the last important thing
I’ll ever do. Let those
friends who remain
wade out with me
beyond the breakers and push.
I want to ride the swell.
Elizabeth Austen is the author of Every Dress a Decision (Blue Begonia Press, 2011) and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Goes Alone (Floating Bridge Press, 2010) and Where Currents Meet, part of the 2010 Toadlily Press quartet, Sightline. Her poems have appeared online (The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily), and in journals including Willow Springs, Bellingham Review, the Los Angeles Review, the Seattle Review, DMQ Review, and anthologies including Poets Against the War, Weathered Pages and In the Telling.
Credit: WHERE CURRENTS MEET was originally published in the Bellingham Review, 2009, reprinted from Every Dress a Decision (Blue Begonia Press, 2011).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A River Runs Through Us Editor’s Note by Judith Roche Lyn Coffin Scott Ezell Sharon Doubiago Elizabeth Austen Kathleen Flenniken Christian Knoeller Lyn Lifshin David Berger Laura Bowers Foreman Sayantani Dasgupta Sibyl James Mary Swander Wendy Noritake Ann Spiers Kathleen Sweeney Brenda Peterson Dick Bakken Linda Rodriguez Michael Schein Carolyne Wright Angel Latterell Kristin Van Tassel Annie Finch Elizabeth Cunningham Cait Johnson Jack Hirschman Paul Nelson