The spring tide

falls and I pick my way

among the blades of oyster shells

to wade into sloe water.

Ink-dipped invisible below

my breasts, I push off, swim

twenty strokes,  then stretch

my legs down to gain a toe’s hold

on the island’s thatched muck.

Here the water’s clear

and crabs pin-prick quick passage

over my feet.


The tide ripples, encircles

each thigh with light

lip prints of foam; leaves

debris to mark me.  I turn

and wade back racing a wall of fog

that casts broad tentacles

onto the flats yellowing the scattered

crates, the oystermen bent

beside their trucks; the far  marsh

obscure in resinous luster. 

Between shore and shore,

I travel as strangely as sound.


At the neap, I pull

and pull against

insistent water.  Still,

four hundred yards from shore,

the wind throws spray over

my quick breath as I float, 

gather strength, then pound ten strokes out

and choke. Reaching down I find

water  on water—the tide,

though blind, is no lover

drawing without desire

toward the open sea.



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Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas

Swimming Loagy Bay by Laurie Rosenblatt