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[Poetry] Two Poems by Erika Saunders

Paper Moon


We walk the paper road

between the village


and the sea lit by moonlight.

The oysters are busy opening


and closing, blinking

brine in the moonlight.


Our love just as busy –

with our fingers laced


loosely together, we walk barefoot

in the sand unwinding


from the day’s demands –

all the compromised desires.


Watching for seal noses and shark fins

just beyond the waves,


we stop and settle our bones

into the sand. Our arms linked,


we lean into one another sagging

a bit like an abandoned battlement.


The salt breeze sticks

my blowing hair to my lips


and you kiss me through

those strands, taut and vibrating


like a guitar chord

struck. We are the waves


crashing, we are the castle walls

breached, we are both the seal


and the shark stranded there

together on the moonlit beach. 




When you murmur

your dreams

in my ear, they sound of the sea

and tingle

like a murmuration

of starling swooping and gliding

across my skin.


Our future flashes

like silver tarpon scales

shimmer in the sun

as they leap from the water

and I toss a pinch of salt

against loss.


In the Saudi desert

a sandstone structure


resembling the skeletal

scraps of a boney



All full of extinct mega-

monster wonder of

scale and bone,

dreamers exclaimed

that the sand shifted to water

and stone to flesh

in the shimmering heat haze

and the mega-fish

found the sea

once more.


Your lips come to roost

at the nape of my neck

and I lean into the comfort

of your arms

as you murmur us

into a legend

daring to carve hope

out of stone.


Erika Saunders is the author of Hit or Miss Yields (South Dakota Poetry Society, 2022) and Limes and Compromise (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Much of her work is inspired by nature and exploring human relationships as they map across the landscape. Her poetry has been included in Cholla Needles, Watershed, The Red Wheelbarrow, Noble Gas Quarterly, Pasque Petals, Prairie Winds, Split Rock Review, South Dakota Magazine and Oakwood Literary Magazine. She resides in South Dakota.


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