Barefoot   she walks the strand   conscious her man
is somewhere in the swelling darkness   where Proteus rises
Her feet sink in sand   as waves wash around them   lifting
granules & bits of shell   & setting them down   constantly shifting
the distinction between sea & land   like the line in her mind
between what is   & what seems to be

Along this tranquil bay   where her mother   & her mother’s
mother   both spent their powers mending nets   she shrugs
at the difference   for her heart is drawn beyond the glimmer
of distant lights   & so much of what she sees is hers   she hears
the howl   of wind across the water   like a blowing
through Triton’s twisted conch shell

For her daughter   such fancies are as worn as the heels
she wears while shopping   & a horn   only blares
when she’s slow to step from the street   Her hours
consist of getting & spending   so out of tune
with her mother’s world   bleared & smeared   like lipstick
on a little girl   Her feet   so fashionably shod   are unable to feel

But when tide is full   & the moon lies fair on the water
together   mother & daughter will stroll   kicking shoes aside
where there’s joy & love   & sufficient light   to know
reality dwells in the sand   & the shallows   & the deep down things
where unseen   bending over the darkling plain
the Holy Spirit   whispers   with such bright wings




  • D.S. Martin is the author of five poetry collections, including Ampersand (2018), and his most recent book Angelicus (2021) — both from Cascade Books. He is Poet-in-Residence at McMaster Divinity College. He is also the Series Editor for the Poiema Poetry Series, where he has edited more than thirty poetry collections, and three anthologies. He and his wife live in Brampton, Ontario; they have two adult sons

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