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"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.