First thing after I shower,
I brew a fresh pot of coffee, pour a cup
and take it out to the garden to sit
under the yellow-laden lemon tree
where yesterday at twilight I saw a hummingbird,
wings a blur, flit from globe to globe.
Since having moved into this house
far inland from the ocean we lived by
for over a decade, ocean whose smell brought us
home, whose salt smell was home,
I’ve seen bluejays, white doves, and hummers,
warblers and whistlers you won’t hear by the sea
which can be calamitous, as that drowned crew
of young Russian submariners only yesterday doomed
by their leaders callous indifference…
Old men sacrificing other peoples’ sons,
as if the sea didn’t have enough old bones
to gnaw on; it needed new young.
For us, though, lucky enough to be on land,
there’s nothing like a garden in bloom
and the sight of new birds to loosen
the ocean’s hold on us and start the new life.
Jack Marshall is one of America’s finest poets; we are honored to have him on our site. He has published 12 books of poetry (the most recent, The Steel Veil, 2008), and a memoir, From Baghdad to Brooklyn 2005; a book-length poem, TRACE (for which he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship), will appear in 2012.