So here we are, you west, me east—
a brackish blue chasm between us. Nobody knows
what Chesapeake truly means, some say Mother of Waters,
others Great Shellfish Bay—all I know is that it breaches
our center. Struck mute across this body of thought,
we are two halves of the blue crab’s claw:
one dactyl, one fixed.
In the Wake
Again, the tide takes us without warning, swells crash in cadence,
breath of the sea. When those that leave us go, emptiness
caves in, footprints fading in wet sand. This time, let grief
carry us beyond mooring, beyond
meaning, beyond simple measure. Let us lie
upon the berm with faces upturned
toward sky. Like children, let us learn
to capture the taste on outstretched tongues,
fingertips sweeping the strand, making angels
of us all. Let each wave
grow heavy with its own weight—
and let love
break us, again.
Once, I held the weight of an ocean in my hand—
a halved shell filled with a fat fringed mollusk.
Plumbing the tines of a small fork beneath its delicate depths,
I freed it, planting it in a lover’s open mouth.
Tongue trying not to probe its texture, he grimaced
before swallowing it, whole and still alive.
Tara A. Elliott’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Wildness, and Ninth Letter, among others. Community outreach includes her role as Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Writers Association (ESWA), and Chair of the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. A former student of Lucille Clifton, she is a recent winner of Maryland State Arts Council’s Independent Artist Award for Literature.