The Gist Of Geography & Letters

gist of

( An Island off the Georgia coast, 1780)

 

A heron shrugs in the wind;

her wings a fringed shawl

reminding me it’s cold.

I need one of my own.

 

The candle is almost done,

shriveled beneath its greater flame

Like the darkness

beneath dawn widening

over this field — and beyond the marsh,

the sea moves north

where my husband’s encamped.

 

He’s waiting for the canons to come

but says their supplies are low. A sudden lack

of gun powder. They’re casting spears

from pikes and spare metal.

Everything is threadbare.

 

And here on the island, I tell him

Spanish moss is thinning

on the cypress. Ghostly threads

out of use, lacking a needle

 

or purpose. So much like the ones

I found on my hem. Fibers of linen

or wool, the old Gullah woman

swears they have meaning, put there

by spirits to show something

needs to be stitched.

 

The wind stills and the bird

plunges her beak

into shallow water, grabs nothing

but a string of seaweed

 

When it dries, it will turn

reddish brown. The color of a bloodstain,

the tint of his hair ( last falling)

against my hand in the sun.

 

 

5 comments

  1. Wendy, your poem calls me inside, makes me stay, and read again. These lines speak to me: “her wings a fringed shawl”, “like the darkness beneath dawn.” I recognize the Spanish moss and the Gullah woman, and I’m reminded of a war that tormented wives waiting. Thank you for sharing this piece.
    ptc

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wendy,

    You transport the reader with your words.

    From “A heron shrugs in the wind;” to the very last
    word of the last line, I lived the experience.

    The close really sealed the deal:

    “… a string of seaweed

    When it dries, it will turn

    reddish brown. The color of a bloodstain,

    the tint of his hair ( last falling)

    against my hand in the sun”

    I love it!

    Sarah

    Like

  3. Hi Ptc

    I deeply appreciate your kind words and endorsement of this poem! I love history and what fascinates most, is the human story behind the event. And I should add, especially the plight and endurance of women. So glad you enjoyed this! Thank You!

    Hi Sarah

    It’s so good to know the feeling and scene come alive to the reader. I deeply appreciate you sharing that with me as well as your generous review of this poem! It means a great deal!

    Take care
    my best to you both!
    Wendy

    Like

  4. Beautifully wrought lines Wendy. Your poetry is always a joy to read; but with that single line ‘ her wings a fringed shawl,’ you took this poem to another level. What a sublime depiction.

    Douglas.

    Like

  5. Hi Douglaus

    Your wonderful comments on this poem are deeply appreciated! I am so glad that imagery works. I grew up with a blue heron who stayed for the summer on my mom’s pond. It was gorgeous and sacred in a way, at least to me. When the bird spread its wings, it always reminded me of a “fringed shawl”. It’s funny how certain images that we grew up with or encountered linger and than work their way into our writing or art.

    Again, thank you!
    Wendy

    Like

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