"ODE TO THE SCHORREN"
from Volume 5: Wild Mercury
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
& their skin-thin silt the Scheldt ground down
from rocks, slopes & swamps —
that rainy-day-gray mud, a 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 you’ll press both hands
to your heart. Both hands to your heart.
(The Schorren are large tidal marshes to the north of Antwerp, in Belgium)
Laure-Anne has another poem in Volume 5, available here in our bookstore.