Guest Poet: Paul Marshall

puget sound beachI am pleased to share with you a poem by my friend and fellow Writing Labster, Paul Marshall. Paul’s words have graced this blog before (check out his book, too, Building a Boat: Lessons of a 30-Year Project). Last August, he joined me and a bunch of other mostly-northwest poets in the poetry postcard challenge. His process differed from mine in his usual Marshallian way, and was an inspiration.

One of Paul’s postcard poems will appear in the anthology, 56 Days of August.  In the postcard poem below, Paul writes about a local beach and bears witness to the generations of other visitors who came before him.  It has been many years since I went clam-digging, but I don’t think I’ll ever eat a clam again without feeling his presence.

Elders

Native spirits of the Salish Sea
whisper to me as I walk the Double Bluff beach.
The bluff rises like a sentinel
cast in sand and rock.  Standing guard for 15,000 years,
lone soldier left for us by the retreating army of ice.

Butter clams have brought humans to this spot
since the ice left.  Digging into the barnacle
encrusted cobble I feel the cold hands
of the old ones digging alongside mine.
We search for the grey and tan shelled creature that will feed us
this summer night.

clams

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