Tuesday Poem: ‘Moments in Sand’ by Michelle Elvy

Delaware, 1979

My brother leaps
off the end of the jetty
sand flings from his feet

He’s airborne a second      or two
— feels like forever and I think he’ll keep going, fly away

Origami-boy, sudden swan,
limbs tucked then released, gangly and long
He unfolds, stretches, becomes elegant,
blond mane whipping, wings out wide,
jet-fast now, there’s no stopping him
oooooooooooooooooooo— and he’s gone

Berlin, 1989
A sand painting
fluid, fragile
bird into bridge into moon
east meets west in rivulets of movement
Bird flies —
oooooooBerlin morphs
Us and Them pulling down walls
climbing to greet and kiss
oooooooon a bridge arcing time
This moment, this moment
matters most
while moon plays with tide — regular as, well, the moon

Sand painting shatters, reality is only
ooooooo light and shadow
ooooooo and I live in the in-between

Spa Creek, 1999
More mud than sand
but the silt of this brackish bay
holds her childhood – crabs in
buckets, a foot split on glass,
bandaged in a skiff by a friend
with shaky hands, murky memories
of young love

The Chesapeake, her home once,
now stranger than sandpainting in Berlin
Sister brother mother gather
for a moment at the creek’s edge,
a quiet Christmas with candles

Briskly now: back up the street to the warmth
Of mother’s home, salted ham biscuits and
crescents baked golden, rolled with pecans

Girl looks back to creek, her home her heart
while the tide pulls her           away

Urupukapuka, 2009

From one end of the beach I see my children
all the way at the other, silhouettes rushing
at water then retreating up sand
as waves chase and almost catch
ooooooooooooooo their featherlight feet

They stop, lean in, consult, hover
then purposefully work, carrying things
ooooooooback and forth
bringing items to evaluate, discarding many
keeping only the right ones

I am too far to see the treasures
they choose and assemble with care
but I hear their voices tinkle my way
on the grey air, soft chimes in my ear

Their tiny forms squat over a mound
of feathers seaweed and shells ,
larger scallop shapes wedged round the edge,
a barricade
ooooooooooooooo against everything

a stick-and-seagrass cross at the head
they know how to build a proper penguin grave

Up close now, I hear them whisper wishes for
this wee blue one: forever and safe and hush
I wait for them to finish, for some things you
ooooooooooooooo oooooooooooo cannot rush

Note: 

This may be my last post for the Tuesday Poem group, as I’m about to sign off this year and tend to other projects. I’ve been a member of Tuesday Poem for three years. Remarkable poetry output and sharing — what a wonderful, inspiring group, and what friends I’ve made, too.

I usually post other people’s poetry here. In fact, I looked over my TP posts and see such diversity… including a range of work from Emma Barnes to James Dickey, from Piet Nieuwland to Sam Rasnake, from Rupert Fike to Helen Vitoria, from Keri Hulme and Paula Green and Tim Jones to George Korolog and Pris Campbell and James Owens, from Siobhan Harvey and Kay Cooke and Bill Yarrow to Kushal Poddar and Jim Valvis and Susan Tepper… There are many more, too, and I want to read them all again.

I thank all the poets who’ve shared their work here in the last few years.

As it turns out, the very first TP poem I posted for this series was by NZ poet Vaughan Gunson (‘a memory’, here) and the very last poem I posted also happens to be by Vaughan Gunson (/rough’ — posted earlier in Feb, here). I didn’t plan that, but there’s a kind of circularity that I like about this, a natural flow of things.

313521_158654747565911_573788114_nSo today, as a bit of a departure and a farewell, I share one of my own — a small set of poems, really, with glimpses across four decades and four geographies — published in Ika Journal in November 2014. I was really pleased that the editors picked up this piece (thank you, Anne Kennedy and Robert Sullivan), and my hard copy arrived in a package from New Zealand just a few weeks ago. It’s a  beautiful journal, with postcards and fold-outs and art and words all interspersed to make an exceptionally pleasing whole. Other writers and artists in this issue include Kirsti Whalen, Anthony Tofilau, David Eggelton, Helen Rickerby, Emma Neale, Heather McPherson, Penny Howard, Daren Kamali and Ya-Wen Ho (and many more). Lovely to hold this journal and let it sink in…

Farewell, Tuesday Poets, for now. Thanks for letting me in!

 *

Tuesday Poem is a collective of poets who share poetry on a weekly basis across borders and time zones. Please check out the other poets and the main poem at the TP hub this week — a song by Fiona Apple posted by Zireaux. On the sidebar you’ll find the other Tuesday Poets sharing words and stories and images.

Tuesday Poem For more Tuesday Poems, go here.

 

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14 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Moments in Sand’ by Michelle Elvy

  1. pscottier says:

    Selfishly, Michelle, I hope that you still comment on other people’s blogs!

    I will be very sorry to see you go. Perhaps you can update everyone on where to find your writing, as you seem to do so many projects.

    I love the movement in these poems.

  2. Deneen says:

    I will miss my weekly dose of poetry but it’s so important to grow and change and discover. Yes, please do keep us updated about where to read your poetry. I could smell the salt of Chesapeake Bay when I read these poems!

    • Thanks, Deneen! So glad you stopped by — and we’ll share more poetry and smiles along the way, no doubt. Glad you felt lifted back our old stomping grounds… Lovely to hear that.

  3. ajponder says:

    A sad day, I shall miss you. Wishing you well on your new projects and adventures. 🙂

  4. racheljfenton says:

    Despite needing tissues, I’m glad you posted your poems this week, Michelle.

  5. Loved reading these beautiful poems especially the penguin burial. I feel very sad that you are leaving us. You have been such a positive voice. I shall watch out for you. Hope the wind fills your sails! Helen

    • Thank you, Helen. Wind in the sails, yes! And I am still a devoted fan and follower of TP. You can be sure I’ll stop in still. Thanks for the kind words about the blue penguin. It is based on a moment I observed with my girls, when they were quite a bit smaller…

  6. We’ll say “Au Revoir” and not “goodbye”, Michelle. You are a very good friend in cyberspace and I hope one day to meet you in person. Lovely poem. I like “Origami-boy, sudden swan,” and the running motif of the sand. Happy sailing and happy project-ing. Love, Andrew

    • Yes, Andrew — auf Wiedersehen… Good friends indeed. I will miss you too, but we’ll be seeing each other here and there, no doubt. Glad you like that Origami-boy. That’s how I hold that image of my brother from so long ago. He unfolded and soared.

  7. immortalmuse says:

    I, too, was struck by the brilliance of “Origami-boy.” This is metaphor-making at its very best. You’ve been such an inspiration, Michelle. I’m a great admirer of your work and life; and few know the sand with such an intimacy as you. I hope to see more of your writing soon, and expect to feature it myself — or see it featured by others — on the Tuesday Poem site. So afraid your departure is not so easy after all. Be sure to keep in touch.
    – Zireaux

    • Oh thank you, Z! Metaphor at its best — how lovely to hear. I am glad we’ve come to know each other, and we’ll surely see more of each other in varying venues. And at TP still — I will not disappear entirely, no. I am sure I can’t stay away from reading regular doses of all that fine poetry.

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