Author’s Note: “As an archeologist I often think about what becomes an artifact. One morning I was walking along a cove on the Chesapeake Bay. I was by myself, yet realized I am never truly alone. My family and friends come easily into my mind, often when I see something in nature or art that reminds me of them. I wrote this while trying to capture how a physical object can connect you to a person.”
Boots at the high-tide mark,
bare feet on sand and shell-wreck.
Pick up an iridescent shell, think, her.
Pick up a smooth flat stone and think, him.
Find a tiny spiral fossil, think, her.
Fill the pocket, feel it weigh and start to drag, wish for more
pockets. Wish to want less. Walk and gather.
Waves a steady hush unnoticed until the crab boat chugs by,
drowning out the sound of stone-shell steps. The waves
transform, they rush and gambol like children
hurrying to be first. Tumble and crash.
Small mountain shapes, the waves’ leavings
undulate and measure how far the water has receded.
I think of my grandfather as I always do.
I am so often not lonely, yet yearn to be understood, heard.
I carry them all with me, weighted in my pocket, or hiding in folds
of memory. I’ve returned to my boots. My hands remember
just how to hold these heavy, unwieldy things.
There are easier ways. I know them. Today, I do not wish
to be else.
Lara Payne lives in Maryland. She is a former archeologist and now teaches writing to children and, on the college level, to veterans. Her poem “Corn Stand, 10 ears for two dollars” was a winner of the Moving Words Competition and placed on buses in Arlington, Virginia. Her poems explore the environment and the hidden work of women. In addition to the Delmarva Review, they have appeared in Beltway Poetry Quarterly and Mom Egg Review.
“low tide” is from the fifteenth annual Delmarva Review, an independent, nonprofit literary journal that selects the most compelling new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from thousands of submissions annually. It is designed by its founders to encourage the most outstanding new writing for publication. The journal is available worldwide from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Support comes from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org
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