Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Shoal

by Edward Ahern

The shoal sour dries in wind drifts
as the leavings of the ebb come into view.
Shell piles here, sand there, rimmed by
barnacle rocks and wet-rotting weed.

Gulls and terns pick at scattered
remnants of crab and fish,
and lift dying clams high enough
to drop them onto the rocks.

The water almost, almost stops,
a hovering quiver in the shoal’s edges,
before the surge rewets the gasping buried
on its slithering way across the crest.

Men who ignore this ever-change
are trapped by it.
One or two boats a year aground,
one or two men a decade drowned.

Feeding and dying quicken with the flow,
little fish pushed across the shoal
toward waiting jaws,
birds swooping for the crippled.

Force of water rules the shoal,
which heaves its crests and shallows
to appease the ever-flowing god
who never looks back.

The water climbs man-high above the shoal,
And, stirred only by wind
fondles fish and weed and shell
until ebbing implacably into turmoil.

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