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LIFE AND DEATH IN A SALT MARSH

By Rodney Rountree
circa 1991
(Poem #21 from "Poem Time Capsule")

I sat on a dock and looked out over the water.
The moon, crescent and bright, reflected from its glassy surface.
I rubbed my arms against the chill, and listened to the marsh.
Birds called from every direction –
Oystercatchers, seagulls, and occasionally the disarming scream of a Great Blue.
A light breeze blew through the grass,
I could hear the grasses rustle as they swayed back and forth.
Behind these were the sounds of water.
Water lapping at the dock and shore,
A popping gurgle of rushing currents in the bay,
And the muffled rumbling of distant ocean waves.
I glanced up to see the sky was clear and full of stars.
The water was full of life.
Small fish and crustaceans darted and glided about.
A seahorse floated in lazy circles.
Reaching out – I splashed my hand in the water.
It felt cold.
Ripples from the disturbance grew and spread.
The fishes fled.
Even the seahorse sank into the depths.
The birds seemed to cry louder, the breeze picked up.
The noise became confusion, as if the ripples moved through the marsh itself.
It grew to a crescendo of sounds…and then slowly died in the distance.
I felt very alone. Restless, listless.
I watched as a small school of fish danced around a piece of floating grass, as if playing a game.
I longed to have her sitting next to me…
One of the fish darted to the side to snatch some piece of food I could not see.
To hold her in my arms –
Another piece of grass passed by,
Twirling crazily as an isopod speed it along –
As if on some drunken sled ride.
To whisper in her ear.
A flash of color and sound caught my eye –
I turned to see a night heron swallow its catch.
It was not to be.
I stood up and walked away.
Behind me a game of life and death continued –
Before me…
I didn’t know.
Another game?
Perhaps real life, or maybe just another dream.


This page was last modified on October 9, 2014
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