Poems of Place & Displacement

Why We Hike to the Duck Marsh

     for Linda

For one thing, the ducks.
Also, the flash of redwings in the reeds,
their funny screeching. Across the marsh
a basalt wall climbs 500 feet,
so there’s that. Above it, usually wild blue
or sometimes a silky train of clouds.

Frogs at dusk. Their earthy songs.
If we sit on a log and wait,
an elk will come to wade the far end.
From inside the rocks, a marmot
will whistle his one long note
about time, space, the risen moon.

August heat brings out sweetness
in the pines. December is good, too,
the pines bearing snow dust or ice,
the shy mergansers keeping open
small dark ovals in the middle
where cattails give cover.

On our first trip, you were large
with our second son. The ground
crunched, frozen along the shore,
edged with fragile floral glass.
Another time—spring it was,
aspens just budding—a friend, Jeff,

had just died, and now that too returns me
to this place of sameness and change.
We’ve lived a sweet life—
that’s what I always forget and must relearn
by repeating the short steep path
that braids us to our life like marsh grass.

Colton Storm
Photo Credit:US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Copyright 2007,  Ed Harkness

Ed Harkness earned an MFA in creative writing at the University of Montana, where he studied with Richard Hugo and Madeline DeFrees. He lives in Shoreline and teaches English at Shoreline Community College. His book, Saying the Necessary, was published by Pleasure Boat Studio in 2000. The title poem first appeared in Switched-on Gutenberg, Vol 2, Issue 2.

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