Directions to the Island
First the salt-rot of marsh
decaying into new
shoots of cord grass—jade
upon last year’s lingering bronze.
Where low tide inks
a black line of mud, fiddler crabs
mistaken for sapphires
give back beads of sky. Find the dock breaking
free of dense green, the rustle of leaves
discarded by oak trees
and palmettos’ dry rattle.
Enter where the trail ends
under a curtain of grey moss
and continue until oaks turn
to pine: sap-heavy silence.
Remember, vines embracing
the sharp fans of palm
are not red flames
descending, the choked cry of an egret startled
not an echo, its fleeting white
not a concession. Feel the breeze
and hot tinge of ocean
as you climb with sinking feet
over dunes bristling in sea oats
given millennia this island will
rearrange, these swells of sand
diminish. But now
all around you opens:
explode in vermillion
as waves cast shells
and recede. What the sea leaves is
not divination (water scatters
what has been
and spartina bleached in sun
while sandpipers, backs to the wind,
wait for tide). Continue.
Dan Barton grew up getting lost in the woods and mountains of North Georgia. As well, he spent a great amount of time on Georgia’s coastline. Recently, however, he has made his way west and is currently working on his MFA at Texas State University.