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Under the Trestle

As kids, we tread against the tide in the Sheepscot River,
A persuasive current, funneled and slowed, cold spots
To make us shiver, kick harder, beneath the trestle bridge
Of the ol’ Downeaster railroad, where young swimmers
Like me were not supposed to go but the urge to stop
Paddling and let the undertow, take us in tow,
Irresistible, like bait to boys with fishing poles
Braver, leaping off rope swings, off ledges
At the secret swimming holes.

I was the only girl–or child–to be towed
Beneath the trestle, as if beckoned, I allowed
That blue argument of warm and cold clash
Incoming and outgoing current, ebb and flow
It suctioned and snagged ankles and torso
Rockweed whipped by like tumbleweed
Cartoon-like, or an old movie reel I’d seen
Flipping at the end, spitting “oh hang it”
Engulfed and spat out the other side
The open harbor, floating in a briny
Stew, tickled by eel grass, I’d
Resist putting my foot down
Into that muddy bed, a vast
Sheath of known daggers:
Razor-clams, mussel shells,
Long-necked clams and
Sharp-necked beer bottles,
Worse than shark-bite fears,
Shards of broken glass—
Their deep cuts stung.

And then, you were sorry.

Here is my 6th poem in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Again, I am writing 30 poems in 30 days to support (and raise funds) for the nonprofit Tupelo Press. I’m not alone; there are 8 other poets doing TP Donatethis with me. Their poetry, along with mine, can be found at the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge blog page.  I have linked to some of the other poets’ WordPress blogs, too, under my blogroll and will be adding others as I get the links. Please support Tupelo Press. They are publishing a lot of good work and really depend on the generosity of readers, lovers of poets and kindred spirits.

Dream Sharks

Sharks swam below me in an army of shadows
All moving in one direction: the same one
I was swimming in the dark ocean.

I aimed my flashlight; its beam illuminated
Their silhouettes—unmistakable, these ghost predators
In hazy kelp-dappled moonlight. Our lives, semi-fated.

I saw their fins, recognizable shapes, their stout squarish
Faces, gills and the dorsal, pointing up at me. I swam
Endangered, a subconscious fear of role reversal.

I didn’t splash; I cut the water nose-first
And swam as though fish or a shark myself,
No longer shining a spotlight.

My senses led me, an internal system navigated,
Waves sped me—I felt propelled by some innate energy
Thrust through the water, half under, mostly submerged.

The flashlight, gone. But the sharks, my entourage
A night brigade guarded my belly. We smelled collectively,
The marked perfume of carnage, full-blooded.

We moved in “S” formations: synchronized as a school,
Gliding to white noise, slalom water-skiiers, snakes in a desert.
And when I woke, my skin felt cool.

I was one of them.

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Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

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