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& their skin-thin silt the Scheldt ground down
from rocks, slopes & swamps — a rainy-day-gray mud,
that satin muck that slips through fingers &
escapes toward the insatiable North Sea.
Neptune was born there a farmer told me,
in that estuary where the sky is so low,
you can sip it from your lips.
No horizon, not a farm or field or path — only
unbound marshes moored under the constant
giggle of cloud-ghosting gulls.
It’s this sludge, marsh-soaked, that the winds
whistle to & wrinkle — braiding pickleweed
& widgeon grass — where cat-sized muskrats shriek
& pull bitterns down into the sludge by the feet.
Everything there is sopped with everything:
light with silt, silt with clouds, clouds with rain
& sloughs with rot & slime.
But in the Spring, when griseous clouds swell
high in the air, sun-shafts dive — sudden & brilliant —
deep into the gulleys’ throats, & if you wait long enough,
right there: out of the vaguely swaying sedge,
you’ll hear it: the soar of the marsh warbler’s song —
& it’s then that you’ll press both hands to your heart.
Both hands to your heart.
(The Schorren are large sweet and salt water marshes at the estuary of the Scheldt River in Antwerp, Belgium)
Copyright 2019 Laure-Anne Bosselaar. First published in ORION — Nov-Dec 2016. Included in Vox Populi with permission.