The boneyard nag of a fishing shack,
swaybacked and ready for reclamation,
falters above the tidal sound,
while permanent inhabitants
flit in and out of their plein air abode
or cling to pilings like winded swimmers.
We’re part of one of many summers.
Our paraphernalia still to unpack,
we’ve come prepared to be renewed,
for nothing much to occur. Vacation
allows for every happenstance
to steer the day. Shaky ground,
to seek out what cannot be found
by looking for it. See those shimmers
of light, off in the wavering distance?
—Birds that all week long we track;
that do not move or change location,
ever; that the guidebook showed
were nonexistent—a motherlode
of wishful thinking. We are bound
to lock on any consolation,
anything in which we can immerse
ourselves before heading back. . .
Like table salt, the stars enhance
the night air. The endless dance
of ocean laps the dock. What rode
in on the tide rides out. The black
of water, marsh, and sky surround
the shack. From nowhere, then, green glimmers
of some living illumination
bob with the current’s halting invasion.
We watch them closely as in a trance:
here was something at last that hammers
our message home. What glowed?
Just jellyfish. But what else could astound
like their gentle, unannounced attack?
Consider these trees,
stationed on their slatted stands,
and trained to be small.
Root-pruned and limb-wired—such
techniques could enthrall
the quietest mind.
Appetite renders distant
the spruce one might find
clinging to a cliff
or maples burnished by wind,
positing as if
on each. As small as
they are, the feigned perspectives
offer up solace
(What could they be there?
What do you want them to be?
among their trunks, burled
and dwarfed and stripped of their bark,
in our full-scale world.
Sanders, David. “Poems.” The New Compass: A Critical Review 3 (June 2004) <http://www.thenewcompass.ca/jun2004/sanders.html>