Legacy for Beachcombers

Rockaway Beach, for Sue

At sunset with white hot tongues
of galvanized ten gauge boiling from the mouth
of a furnace forging steel we are gulled
by unspoken regrets into thinking half-buried
rocks in luster of last light are enchanted

every hunk of pitted ground glass a precious
gem with which to repeal the missteps
and mistakes shot like rockets into the sky, bursting
and falling back with stardust into our arms

Between us, we walk off with one jagged piece
of might-be agate through which the sun unknots
memory from our muscles, unwinding
a spiral stair we climb out of ourselves, glass eyes
strung around our necks through which we look back

Convinced we’re more mature
and discerning in this altitude when it comes
to what attracts our mountain-misted eyes
than thirty years ago when first we combed this beach

more mature and not so easily agape
than when we dragged plastic bags of unvetted
broken shells and rocks still glistening wet
with potential as pendent or amulet
simple objects reclaimed with twilight’s magic

in the crucible of our practice, our philosopher’s
stone long since dried out dull and ordinary
forgotten in peanut butter jars
on a shelf in our garage

Our eyes now so filled with light
we cannot see what lies at our feet
We walk over whole worlds lying
silent, awash in the sheen of ebbing
tides following a mirrored sun

There are more agates on the beach today
than were there yesterday
We put them all back
for you to find

 

 

David Memmott

About David Memmott

David Memmott has published five books of poetry, a novel and a story collection. His poem, “Where the Yellow Brick Road Turns West,” was a finalist for the 2010 Spur Award from Western Writers of America. The Larger Earth: Descending Notes of a Grounded Astronaut was selected as one of 150 best poetry books for 150 years of Oregon statehood by Poetry Northwest and Oregon State Library. He is a Fishtrap Fellow, a recent Playa resident and recipient of three Fellowships for Publishing from Literary Arts, Inc., for his work as editor and publisher of Wordcraft of Oregon, LLC (www.wordcraftoforegon.com). He completed a new novel, Canned Tuna, in January, and is currently looking for a publisher. He is also managing editor of Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism. He lives in La Grande, Oregon, with his wife, Sue, and two yellow labs.
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