Where the water is brackish, 

not one thing nor another—the émigré’s curse—  

neither salt nor fresh, but varnish  

clear, these low-tide pools, embossed 

with knotted snails or spider crabs, 

the opal gleam of bivalves, 

a flattened shell like the ear-bone of a fish.


How I came to you: first love 

convinced a girl to leave her woods, 

her checkered fields, and cross a globe. 

Why I stayed: a white cove 

on a creamy strand of pearls—

Parsley Bay, Milk Beach, 

Redleaf Pool.


You are my ocean—

blue cocktail of salt and sediment— 

but you are not my leaf.

Feathered she-oaks—nothing 

like the acorned trees I know,

coastal rosemary doesn’t grow 

along my memory banks,


and I dare not pluck your candy bells 

of fuchsia heath to suck 

the nectar from their stamens, 

as was once my childish habit

in the summer drizzle 

of a shoreline 

far from here.