Poetry

Ashes, Ashes Poetry Sequence

BROAD REACH

the length I stretch
my arm to bring her
back to sail Superior,
but cannot.

Back-winded,
running, I toss
her ashes into frigid water
after not opening my heart.

Close-hauled instead,
I wind sheets around
her invisible body,
enshroud her dissolving
ashes in poetry.

Woman
who brought us together,
centerboard down,
sails trimmed,
gone.

©Kate Hallett Dayton

BOAT HEART

Boat-hearted, boating
heart. Water. Baby. Birth.

Lily couldn’t have a child
with her first husband,
her second
didn’t want one.

Freya became her baby;
diving into the wreck,
repairing it.

Womb. Water. Ocean. Boat.

We’re three quarters
water, she used to say,
meant to be floating.

©Kate Hallett Dayton

ASHES, ASHES

I swim the sheltered
waters off Raspberry Island,
emerge,
and like the anhinga,
dark sister of the heron,
spread my arms wide
to absorb the heat.
Nearby a cormorant
perches upright on a gill net,
wings fanned black.
Dry,
she lifts and flies away,
but ashes of an old friend
cling to me,
keep me still.

I speak words
but they sound like grunts
of great cormorants,
necks ringed in the Orient,
trained to catch and deliver.
More rife here lately, crow ducks
stand on rock walls now,
jutting from Eagle Island;
erect, sentinel,
their long necks attenuated,
they squawk and stare.
Some set out over water,
swoop and dive below the surface.
I envy their cold blood.

Near the trailhead the scaly, cracked
skin of a ring-necked snake lays,
pale and insubstantial,
as ash on an open fire.

©Kate Hallett Dayton

Kate Hallett Dayton

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