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January 2019, vol 14 no 4

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Teri White Carns

Ocean Shores

red poppies
abandoning their petals
to green grass

A friend workshopped a poem about walking through the Alaska brush below her home in the Chugach foothills. In it, she pushes through the brush-covered banks of Eagle River, singing to scare off lurking bears. Devil’s club towers at her shoulders, and twisted roots catch at her feet.

The forest opens onto the river’s delta. Long flat mud lands stretch before her leading into Cook Inlet’s gray waters. Denali rises white across the water, and her breathing slows to the stillness of the space enveloping her.

In the workshop, we sipped wine and admired this. We fiddled with a few words. Said it was good without changes, because she was indeed one of the best poets among us. But she said we weren’t getting the message: that it was about getting old and walking toward death, becoming one and at peace….

I didn’t like that. I spent my youth writing bad poetry and adventuring. I spent my middle years immersed in children and law journal articles and adventuring. I’m in my 70s lusting for bushwhacking my way to the ocean that beckons me with penguins and jarosite cliffs and celadon bowls on its far shores.

western fire
sunsets hidden by birch leaves
from longing eyes