A Gathering

Assateague's wind-littered beach
meets me, often, on violent mornings:
early spring, the limp crucifix

of tangled skate. Or the hard autumn
freeze on fallow fields. Today
I came across a hermit,

a combination of weathered shell
and invertebrate detail. Courting
the surf's edge, he contemplated

whelk, settled lightly
on battered carapace, and gorged.
As I approached the single

feast—intricate crab workings,
imprecise red claw and eyes—
he disappeared into undertow. As waves

like shipwrecks then crashed
in the crescendo of the scene,
minimal armies relished in their creel,

black-headed gulls were born
of drifting chicken bones, and I
turned toward my Olds
and felt the wind consume the sea.

The Last Harvest

She was taught that river systems
tree branches & veins are all mathematically

equivalent  That a skein of geese
is directed by the electromagnetic pull

of iron within the earth's core
That the brilliant wash of a sunset &

the enlargement of the harvest moon are due
simply to condensed particulates

in the atmosphere  She was taught this
& believed it but wanted to learn further

why the geese shining in flight like a string
of pearls know the line of Old Hansen's

ranch the harvest moon lies swollen
against the starless sky & the dying

sun flares longest before the frozen night
Why the cottonwood's branches reach

highest above hidden stones
the Colorado's tributaries course dry

through her father's fields & the blue-red blood
in her mother's veins does not move at all

(Originally published in Sou'wester)