Elizabeth Austen

Rabia O’Loren

WHERE CURRENTS MEET

                                                   Cattle Point, San Juan Island

 

See? Even at slack water a churn

of contradictions. Stay back, instinct

 

instructs. But from here, more beauty than danger.

Water is its own gravity, light

 

itself a lure. Lean into the patterned

motion, ripples to the north, standing waves

 

to the south, the steady shove—

toward what? Nothing here

 

is expected to make sense—contrary

intentions, even the charts

 

predict this. An improvisation

under the surface, revealed

 

by the interplay of light—

water with texture. Whatever invites attention

 

prayer enough for now. You could wait your whole

life for sense to take shape. Does it matter

 

from here, whether those are seals or

bull kelp? Keep looking.

***

 

LEAVING THE ISLAND

ferry from Orcas to Anacortes

 

Mist-colored knots of sea glass. A moss-clot

cadged from the trail’s edge. The truce

 

fished word by word from beneath the surface,

still unspoken. We carry what we found

 

what we made there. Three days you and I

let the currents direct our course, slept

 

on cool sand, let woodsmoke flavor us.

What’s left? Slow travel over cold water.

 

Toward home and days ordered by clocks

instead of tides. We watch through salt-scarred

 

windows, hoping the dark shapes will rise

beside us, will grace us. We know too well

 

what can’t be willed, only missed

if we look away too soon.

***

 

EBBING HOUR

                        after Kunitz

 

Don’t offer opiates.

Lay me naked in the ocean’s

Hammock, still awake enough

to know myself her own.

Feet on her salt pillow,

hands at last with nothing

to grasp. For once I’ll

face unblunted

an event’s full force.

I don’t want to miss

the last important thing

I’ll ever do. Let those

friends who remain

wade out with me

beyond the breakers and push.

I want to ride the swell.

 

Author Biography:

Elizabeth Austen is the author of Every Dress a Decision (Blue Begonia Press, 2011) and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Goes Alone (Floating Bridge Press, 2010) and Where Currents Meet, part of the 2010 Toadlily Press quartet, Sightline. Her poems have appeared online (The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily), and in journals including Willow Springs, Bellingham Review, the Los Angeles Review, the Seattle Review, DMQ Review, and anthologies including Poets Against the War, Weathered Pages and In the Telling.

Credit: WHERE CURRENTS MEET was originally published in the Bellingham Review, 2009, reprinted from Every Dress a Decision (Blue Begonia Press, 2011).

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A River Runs Through Us    Editor’s Note by Judith Roche     Lyn Coffin    Scott Ezell    Sharon Doubiago    Elizabeth Austen    Kathleen Flenniken    Christian Knoeller    Lyn Lifshin    David Berger    Laura Bowers Foreman    Sayantani Dasgupta    Sibyl James    Mary Swander    Wendy Noritake   Ann Spiers    Kathleen Sweeney    Brenda Peterson    Dick Bakken    Linda Rodriguez     Michael Schein    Carolyne Wright    Angel Latterell    Kristin Van Tassel    Annie Finch    Elizabeth Cunningham    Cait Johnson   Jack Hirschman    Paul Nelson

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