Drenched in Spindrift
Spindrift saturates my bones. Country night comes
velvet black. Ebb tide sings my lullaby,
atonal and aleatoric, draining through riprap.
Half a mile from here – maybe less –
father toddled the homestead in white baby dress,
webfoot, born between river and island creek,
sawgrass and water willow.
From Hell’s Point, map calls Sayer’s Point,
his father, Rich, set sail to harvest the bay.
Dark. Sharp-featured. Thin. A splinter
darker than pines standing shoulder to shoulder,
shore to shore. And his mother,
Clara Mae, grave lost to time and tide,
lies somewhere near the cenotaph.
Cousins: first, second, and more,
once and twice removed, even double cousins,
live up and down the shore in frame cottages
and drafty shacks. Potters, Twilleys, and Thomases,
inhabit this spit of land,
three miles long, one mile wide.
My grandmothers were sisters –
bloodline doubled back on itself, the river
that flows our veins. Small wooden coffins,
like snug little ships that always brought them home,
lie buried at the little white church,
highest ground of the island.
In aqua-green dimness among pines, bare soles
pound humus-rich soil.
In blackberry season our mouths stain purple,
arms and legs a bloody calligraphy.
We suck sweetness from honeysuckle –
pleasures of childhood extended.
The river – a silver-scaled dragon – twines
through our lives: friend and foe, god and devil.
Lives timed by tides, heartbeats lapping waves,
bloodlines a tangle of honeysuckle
among gulls and ospreys, terrapins and piss clams,
the big white house at the center of the world.
Ann Howells of Carrollton, Texas edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years. Her books include: Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press, 2016), Cattlemen & Cadillacs as editor (Dallas Poets Community, 2016), So Long As We Speak Their Names (Kelsay Books, 2019) about Chesapeake Bay watermen, and Painting the Pinwheel Sky (Assure Press, 2020) persona poems in voices of Van Gogh and his contemporaries. Her chapbooks include: Black Crow in Flight, published through Main Street Rag’s 2007 competition and Softly Beating Wings, 2017 William D. Barney Competition winner (Blackbead Books). Ann’s work appears in many small press and university journals.