Two Poems by Tami Haaland

Dog Beach

A woman whispers to her partner
she will not go barefoot, yet shoes
are useless against sea and sand.

In low tide, kelp and barnacle-covered
rocks, creatures kept wet in shadowy
interiors seem to rise into the air.

One scientist theorizes that when
we die, we don’t leave but move on

to another layer of reality—some say
thirty-two or more folded like pastry.

Near a rock, I see what seems
like mussel shells crushed, but they are
clams making a broad swirl in sand.

A translucent blue crab circles
in this afternoon’s small tide. I find
no dogs here, but there are many tracks.


Bat at Noon

The swoop, skim, rise and slip over water,
almost bird-like. No coast, no glide.

A gulp of insect and up the craggy
cottonwood bark to a bat-sized crevice,

perfect color in the shadowy daylight
of late, late summer. We face each other.

How good to meet you, I say. It clicks
across the ragged bark into the space

between us, quick pulses of sonar
to find and map the other. It is

learning, as I am. It is a vague contour,
but I cannot see its skin, its slight fingers,

the fine-veined texture of its wings.
What allows me to feel how it

huddles in the crevice, looking down?
When I step away, it clicks again, and

I return to this conversation, if it is
a conversation. I see you, I say,

then listen through moist summer heat
for its barely audible reply.


Tami Haaland is the author of three poetry collections, including What Does Not Return, When We Wake in the Night, and Breath in Every Room, a Nicholas Roerich First Book Award winner republished by Red Hen Press. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ascent, Consequence, The American Journal of Poetry, december, The Ecopoetry Anthology, Cascadia, and have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, American Life in Poetry, and The Slowdown.

Leave a Reply