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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

HOW TO LIVE BY THE SEA; NOT ROSES; SPELL

By: Jill Moffett


HOW TO LIVE BY THE SEA

Butterfly clam bioindicates

like a boss.

She’s living

that swash zone life

that bivalve life

cut-throat trout

canary

coquina

haricot de mer

you complete me

life


delicate delicate

mallow-flower purple

languid beachy vibes

dancer’s feet

coquina swagger

is part industry

part bling

At Topsail Island,

cocooned with rented quilts

against the chill

of separate bedrooms,

my body rearranged itself


– caterpillar that I am.


Coquina’s foot

swells with residues

contaminants,

microplastics

heavy metals

Enough.


I can hear her now her

shell wings pressed together

mauve for no reason

digging into the sand.

“Que sera, sera! Come on in, the water’s fine!

You little rascal you.





NOT ROSES


Not roses, with their perennial

promise of prize-winning blooms.

What I adore is weedy, wild.

Goldenrod, chickweed, purslane:

especially on a spring day

of scraping children’s bloody bodies

from their classroom floor


I know how it feels to be untended

wild as I’ve been

throughout these wooly years.


I love a good rewilding but if I were a rose

I’d be fabric petals and green plastic stem.

Why not pretend, I’d say.

Why not pretend that everything’s okay.






SPELL


Make a list of the slights, betrayals, and regrets,

the resentments and what makes you howl with the unfairness of it all

like how your mother didn’t love you

way back then. Take the scraps of lined paper and set them ablaze

by the flame of blood red candles.

Vow to take your power back.


Lash three found sticks together, twigs harvested from the yard,

all three patched with lichen blots,

spindly and wild, released by lean-trunked pine trees.

Use an arm’s length of scratchy kitchen twine.


I take back my power from the babies

I take back my power from the war

Nothing compares to our babies

Nothing compares to the war


Now gather up some other things and plant them in the ground.

Fall on your knees.


What grew took many seasons, one spring and then another

one spring and then another and another until

forgiveness showed up when it wanted to, as if by magic

an uninstructed act of creation.


a seed a seed the sea.





 

Jill Moffett is a poet, writer, teacher and collage artist. She has a PhD in Gender Studies and an undergraduate degree in English. She’s lived in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, and Iowa City, but now she calls Chapel Hill, North Carolina home. Her poems have been published in The Cortland Review, The Headlight Anthology, and Stirring: A Literary Collection. Her first chapbook, Border Crossing, was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2019.

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