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Ian Murray

Fording the oxbow, early in the afternoon

A bluegreen witch’s cauldron in the earth

waist high, all swirling, shimmering

Swarms of insects overhead, out of Exodus

Yards to the respite of the island

A broad pebble beach without an inland

Where time unspools itself like the

roots snaking through the scattered stones

Whose heads trail off into the water

Where the ground is littered with fossils-it’s like

Finding sand in the Sahara

Bend down:- a horn coral?

Or the petrified fang of a monster now sleeping?

Brachiopod?- or a little geisha fan

substituting stone for silk?

And in the center of the island, where the rapids can be heard

making their angry course- a conglomerate slab of

Shells, sponge impressions, a paused movie about an ocean bed,

Is lying, for the taking, under the bough

of white birch arms colored like an ossuary

It’s heavy, but with two hands, one could lift it, and

Groaning, cross the oxbow again and use it as a mantelpiece

Like an antique dictionary of life with an ornate cover-

Or a funerary urn for all those sea lilies.

Yes- it would even be easy with two sets of arms,

But you, in admiration of your own stillness

might also think, back against the tree trunk,

Whether, at 400 eons,

It has really had a long enough rest to justify disturbing it

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