Tidepool Strata Near Half Moon Bay
I was there at first light, in the minus tide,
picking my way across weed-strewn strata
risen from sea. Wave crests, far out;
white gulls at the edge of a bay revealed,
shore beyond shore. A grey shape lifted
from hidden fissures, heron, great blue,
pterodactyl beak gliding and stabbing.
Fault lines of granite angled me out:
at my feet a skittery n
of insects risen from chasm. I saw
how barren the channels where alien landwater
ran undersea; how fierce with life
the crevices, hollows, inlets where waves
surged and withdrew, flotsam and foam.
I stepped between weed-mounds, myriad black snails
coiled in their pearl, small anemones shut
to the air, fisting their grit-studded muscle.
I bent to the tidepools where sculpin hovered,
the sidelong hermit put forth its black limbs,
and the great anemones opened their ancient
animal flowering, corolla and mouth.
I gave thanks for the ancestors, foam cell and breath,
for the bones and the softness; for the deep flood-tides
of the young, the slowing blood-tides of the old.
For the lessons of stone, breaking down, and of water,
flowing on. For the unseen life that feeds,
and the seeing. For the great primordial light
that pulls the tilting earth; for the lesser
light pulling and heaping the seas. For all this,
and the salt in my mouth, the sea in my hands.
By Judith McCombs
Maryland poet Judith McCombs has been published in numerous literary journals. Her fifth book is The Habit of Fire: Poems Selected & New. She has held NEH and Canadian Senior Fellowships and won the Maryland State Arts Council’s highest Individual Artist Award for poetry, in 2009. She teaches at The Writer’s Center.
The Spy is pleased to reprint Ms. McCombs poetry from The Delmarva Review, Volume 8 (2015). The literary journal is published by the Eastern Shore Writers Association with additional support from private contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council. Print and digital editions are available from libraries, local bookstores, and Amazon.com. For information, visit: www.delmarvareview.com.