The Root of the Wind is Water
Wind shreds the clouds,
tears them across the horizon.
Gone the peachy glow of dawn,
and now waves crest and foam,
roar their trouble to the shore,
salt crusting the seaweed
tangled on shingle. Fleeting glimpse
of a gull’s carcass dragging the sand
before the tide tugs her out once more.
Ridges of rock appear and disappear
Days like this,
no others on the strand,
I remember how small I am,
how unlikely to matter to this wildness
raging before me. Here I learn
to be alone, to know the world will keep
going without me. But my bone
and muscle grasp, grip the ledge
where I stand – doused by spume,
uncaring of time, a mess of kelp wrapped
around my feet. I belong, I belong –
my shouts carry out to sea.
Memory Knows the Place
Salt-soaked air and sullen clouds
press against the horizon, my skin.
A meager light slips through sea-spray and rain,
wet patina over rock and pier.
Driftwood, shells gild the sand.
Solitude fine when I left the house,
here I am remembering those last days –
the ones I thought were our healing
but you were snipping, severing.
We walked a foreign shore, perfume of a damp sea
day tickling our senses. I thought we two
were one, at least mending – photos still show
the delight in my eyes. If I had looked closer
into yours, would I have noticed you
were halfway gone? Is hope naïve?
I’m no longer innocent, no longer trust
the shelter of your arms or your quick smile
that braced me on days like this –
days that promise nothing
except more of the same.
Sea mist erases the shore,
dim shadows in growing gray.
The sob of surf sounds
both hollow and close as water searches
the rocks, the sand –
the bargain with light has begun.
The dog, more nimble than I,
leads as I slip across a harvest of sea-wrack.
Curlews cry and curse from within
the cottony fog so much like a womb.
I wait, shrouded and blind,
bell buoys clanging somewhere with the tide.
Scout tongues salt off stone,
nudges driftwood until a crab scythes the air
too near his nose. Folded in this flannelled haze,
I laugh while he snuffles and skitters the sand,
barks drifting into nothing.
Sunlight seeps through mist,
seeds of water charming the air
in a fading dance as dunes, seagrass,
docks sculpt the horizon –
rumors of the world taking shape once more.
KB Ballentine’s seventh collection, Edge of the Echo, was released May 2021 with Iris Press. Her earlier books can be found with Blue Light Press, Middle Creek Publishing, and Celtic Cat Publishing. Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including Pandemic Evolution (2021), In Plein Air (2017) and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017). Learn more at www.kbballentine.com.