Oceans, Mountains, and Their Appetites

                                 “The ocean’s culinary taste
was growing more sophisticated and occasionally

its appetite was unwieldy. It ate boats and children,
the occasional shoe. Pants. A diamond ring.
. . .

The original lifeguards were taught to address the ocean
as neighbour. Neighbour, they’d said, always showing

their open hands, please give back the child you’ve swallowed.”

 – Sue Goyette, Ocean

 cedarsAt night, I read Ocean and imagine a sea that gnaws sullenly at the shore, wolfing down the occasional poet, lifeguard, and child.

In the morning, we walk the trail hewn of forest, where the mountain devoured a little girl last fall, when she scampered ahead of her mother.

Now the cedars are huddled tight as arrows, tips murmuring, plotting
their trajectory and how much of themselves they can bear

to leave behind. Springtime is ruffling tree boughs feathery
as baby robins, or the downy fur puppies shed as they grow older

and less adventurous. Much as the girl who got eaten by the mountain
won’t. The trail cinched into the forest leaves a welt.

Was it here?  We ask as we pick our way down the ravenous slope.
Or perhaps here, where a lip of earth trembles and tree roots writhe

out of the forest floor like muscles and tendons, stripped
of their skin and clawing for air. We three daughters,

one cautious foot before another, clutch at thistles and explanations,
trying and failing to imagine such a bottomless loss. Below

in the gullet of the valley, the trail colluded with a swollen creek
to bring ruin, and the man who urged the trail, a gash,

across the steep slope in the first place, lay at home on a couch
in a dim room without rising for days, guilty of having daughters

who managed to grow up safe and whole. Never mind all the years
that remain for worrying over granddaughters

and all the paths that might betray them and plunge them,
gobble them up whole. The warm, green breath

of the sun keeps us from knowing, absolutely, where
and how the hungry rocks rumbled her down the throat of the hill.

Or why the deafening creek roars so loudly over the wreckage
of fallen trees and savaged stones you might mistake its sobs

for laughter.



FWIW: I’m back at school, taking a course requiring me to write a weekly-ish blog, sometimes about the works we’re reading in class, sometimes about new encounters or experiences, particularly those that involve other art forms. If these posts seem different from those in the past, this is why.