Aethusa cynapium

by a. noelle

national seashore poem ephemera

the wild flat side of
the brush trawls salted + fresh
upon sacred sands

i.

    —& humans walked to the edge of the sand
  through a bank of verbena & fog;  
     they thought they’d never get over
the deaths, but they were starting to. Worry
     about money rested in their phones. Talk of
 candidates had stalled. Some sang. Grays of

    objects rested in their packs. They had come
to the edge with children or with friends. Big 
   nothing quieted the crows. Wings of dried ink.
The snake had gone back to the hills, to velvet &
the brian-grasses; it digested a mouse near its spine.
     Some sang. The fox went back & would never

meet the snake except through the ampersand.
     The memory of failure failed for an hour. Some  
        sang. The future was a cosmic particle
seen once a long time ago. Those who had tried
   too often walked with those who had yet to try
    as doubt can walk beside a radical hope—

"Poem for a National Seashore" (extract)
   Brenda Hillman © 2016

1.

She settled her left hand on his faded denims, on the comma between his upper thigh and hip, where the right pocket gloved the house keys and old receipts for baker’s dozens and tall green teas. They were driving a seasoned Corolla on a twisted reroute to taste the salty breath of the Point, the gusty whips off an infinite blue elixir that turned couples into young lovers on sun-bleached afternoons in late-May. Spring was in a hurry, they heard, so they devoured overripe plum blossoms and fermenting leaves on eastern redbuds.

maybe just the touch
of heat sprinkled through windshield,
mellow aftershave

1.5

He was distracted by a tailgate and a bumper sticker when she heard it above the car stereo, the growl like thunder on rusted steel, smelt it, the whining rim sharpen on rugged asphalt and slice through melted rubber. “Is that a train above us?” He glanced at the overpass, thick shadows drenching his brow. “No, that’s us!”

a held breath, pulsing,
vibrating through pores, leaking
pressure through a sieve

2.

Two hours, one curious Samaritan sporting Ray Bans, and one Can I borrow your phone to call my dad? She was stuck in a glazed-over front office, reading the same line on Kawabata’s palm: They were walking around in the sitting room.¹ Daguerreotypes of their off-ramp oasis clogged up the life line, squeezing past a coiffured kimono so that two large albino lions crouched behind two birds with jeweled tail feathers and twenty-four garden snakes writhing beneath a red road sign for The Cats BBQ Historical Saloon. Maximum Occupancy: exceeded.

phones warbling for hands
hold—N as in Nancy—Half
Time beneath air vents

2.5

“It was something in the road—wob-wob-wob—Oh, sure! Never happens when you can pull over. Figures it was today, like it was trying to pull one over on you guys.” The man on the desktop interrupted two maids washing sweet potatoes to call for a PS830. She turned in her seat and made eye contact with faded denims, as they approached slowly to rest in the chair to her left. His right hand settled on her nape, rough fingers slipping through the fine hairs there and tugging gently.

full-bodied laughter
end shifts to happy hour
head home, fools, head home

¹ "The Snakes", Palm-of-the-Hand Stories, Yasunari Kawabata [1950]

#napowrimo #haibun


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