Vox Populi

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Martin Edmunds: Crowes Pasture

The salt marsh by the abandoned fish weir’s

sunk boards at Quivet, wood silvered by a century’s

muds and tides: the sky is iron, rusting

round the edges; ravens settle like scorched

pages in the oak. Cordgrass, couch grass,

foxtail, poverty, teasel, needle-and-thread—

wind hissing frigid through forsaken acres—

each night Orion nocks an arrow to the bowstring,

Bear’s gutshot blood burns bright in hips and haws.

White-hot talons of a dark-phase hawk

dive where tomorrow’s blue moon has to rise.

Salt hay between the treeline and the ebbline—

a lap robe fallen from the starry hay wain

deepening wheelruts past the hunters’ bowers—

elkskin pulled tight to the throats of rushes,

burnt umber in the wet, flat flanks; dulled gold

spine-tufts that stand up rising, falling

to ocean’s onslaught twice a day from solstice

to solstice; amethyst dimming in the smoky lamps—

sea lavender’s branching candelabra—

the temperature drops ten degrees in twenty minutes,

glasswort frosted, brittle underfoot,

all fall its scarlet kept throbbing through the fog.

Windgusts strumming dunegrass are the rippling

muscles of a lion running under

the wind; nothing for it but

over the top into the brunt, cast sand

rasping skin off my lids: hoodwinked, blindfold,

blooded on your stuff of silk and lace:

I could nose my way past Gloucester back to Dover

and find you in the dark with my bare hands.

I bend my neck and lean against the beach

blowing down the beach to Brewster, whitecaps

cracking me up—sideways waves

no longer water, not yet ice—

there, thrown on the sand, a torpedo fish,

ray-round, brick thick, snot brown, barbless, devil

tail with caudal fin (from this

to your Thane of Cawdor, a short hop

as the crow flies over Crowes)—a marvel

the gulls have already started in on, eyes

as always first to go. All’s fair, Dan Cupid

or his blind old sea dog

come frisking to his whistle like a pup—

I don’t know what I have in my hands.

Of course I have to lift the damn thing up—

bottom blanched white, a sucked cut, rose

feathering edges of the underdisc.

Step on one alive, 200 volts—

(hoodman blind played naked among the sea stones)—

each volt a tiny tooth from the dolphin’s livewire

smile I saw last summer, close up and strung,

each one a fallen star, echo

of an explosion, faceted sapphire

anklet of electricity—

as when my hand closed round your ankle, taking charge,

the thrill of that first time still going through me—

now there’s no going back or letting go—

the waves have worked their way around behind me—

that knot tied, shocking beauty.

From Flame in a Stable by Martin Edmunds (Arrowsmith, 2021). Included in Vox Populi with permission.

Martin Edmunds’ poems have appeared in Agni, The New Yorker, The Paris Review and The Nation. Flame in a Stable is his second full-length poetry collection.

One comment on “Martin Edmunds: Crowes Pasture

  1. Barbara Huntington
    February 8, 2022


    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on February 8, 2022 by in Environmentalism, Poetry and tagged , , .

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