Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wild Hearts Know to Break is to Open...

That Which There Are No Words For

All afternoon on the oyster farm,
a great egret watched me work,
hoisting bags of oysters out of the shallow water
on to the dock to sort.

It was dark of the moon, tide lower
than I'd ever seen it, exposing rocks,
a pile of culch I'd dumped at the edge of the marsh,
mud speckled with dead slipper shells,
crabs that could be hibernating.

Oysters, sealed tight, holding their
mouthful of saltwater in deep cups
polished smooth inside by flesh
passed through my gloved fingers,
sorting for market.

I wasn't thinking about thresholds,
how often we cross without knowing,
doors opening and closing
without a creak or click
as the latch catches and we wonder
what side we are on now.

My body had taken over:
bend, hoist, dump, sort--
back into the old bag to grow
another winter underwater,
or into a wider mesh
strung on a line close to shore
for market.

I broke apart those that had fused,
pulled the beards off muscles
and tossed them overboard, rescued small crabs
who clung or froze,
imagining maybe then I couldn't see them.

Minnows thrashed in my palms
opening above the water, pure light
and muscle.
I watched their hearts explode
when they hit the water.

I wasn't thinking about thresholds,
I was pushing oyster bags on my hands and knees
through six inches of water because the tide was so low
I couldn't use the boat, sucked down
when I tried to stand,
forced to crawl,
cursing and laughing as the egret
who had not moved in hours
took a few elegant steps, rippling
the calm.

Sitting up,
kneeling in my waders,
waist-deep in mud,
I closed my eyes,
not because I knew what was coming,
but to see in the dark as well.

The white feathers of the egret so fine and smooth.
The marsh, in mid-December, golden.

It was the day before our darkness
made itself known,
that which we'd say about after,
there were no words for--

Crow call in the east answered by one at my back.
Prepare to be emptied.
Why is the death of innocence the only way
to know we are loved?

Jen Lighty, Dec. 16, 2012


  1. have been writing such amazing works during these shifting days, really transporting the us into those realms. thank you for the experience. and i wonder too...why? we are loved. you are loved. love.

  2. Love, especially the laughing cursing part, so important we remember to find humor in ourselves, our lives.....humbling and lovely