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Miriam Jones
Poems

About Poet
Miriam Jones has been writing poetry for over fifteen years, and has been published in a range of journals including Bogg; The Fourth River; Phoebe: Journal of Gender and Cultural Critiques, Sanskrit, Avocet, Lucid Moon, and Black Book Press. She lives on Smith Island, in the Chesapeake Bay, in Maryland.

Island Living

Our goals and inventions
weigh us.
We drown in reverse,

houses and Sunday meals
pushing us closer to the floor
of the bay

where our bones
will grow gills.
Harmless. Finally, harmless.

~

Riding Bicycles In The Marsh

The last time they'd gone forth, the grasses
were brown and spindly in the marsh.
They were riding bicycles. She remembered
that, and the way the water rose
to meet the sky, fiery and orange,
far in the distance where the horizon lived.

The day was clear. Even a casual glance
revealed the bombing ship anchored
in the waters to the west of the house.
Sometimes that summer, she would emerge
from her afternoon shower to find the walls
quaking in the wake of a blast.

He always rode ahead of her. She knew it was
a mark of his impatient nature, this inability
to slow his pace to match her shorter legs.
Riding behind, she was able to see where
his glances landed. Each bird, each cloud
he viewed became a landmark, a talisman,

transformed under her gaze into meaning.
By the time they reached home, she had
collected enough to hold her steady
through the next series of suns
rising and setting through the windows
of the kitchen until it was time to ride again.

~

Losses

On the shock-lit edge of the marsh where there is no edge, diesel
fuel laps the muck with its multicolored tongue, herons dart their
needle bills in perpetual motion and perpetual stillness ringed about
by gulls, salt grass, scrub pines, telephone poles; her eyes ebb and
flow, and the horizon blends into drift nets and crab pots.

In the night is the click-click of invisible water birds, the bright
white of the rounded moon, the pulsing of unknown stars and the
screaming of owls swooping to catch the few mammals who swam here or
were brought here or floated here on thousand-year logs a thousand
years ago; she shifts in her bed under heavy, salty dreams.

Day and night reeds crash like knives sharpened against each other,
oyster shells crack under tires, and houses shudder in their muddy
future graves when the bombing ship is bombed; when she ventures to
the far side of the island, she lets herself wonder if the ducks will
be fed or shot.

The rescue vehicle forces its way down the island's garrote, choking
terns and osprey, rockfish and fiddler crabs, while those who listen
hide under plucked feather beds with their hoarded cash, and pray the
Methodist way the ambulance isn't coming for them; her teeth are
coated with brackish water, eyes open wide.

~

Miriam Jones
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