With their little fat fingers
they sift the beach for gifts
of jeweled popweed, opalescent
mussels, a pirate’s haul
of gaudy sea glass in a pail.
Just beyond is the rime
of sallow foam pushed ashore,
a lacy arch of brine licking
harmlessly at their feet, trailing
a line of gleaming crumbs, saporous
as candy. Here is a land whose
darlings still believe something
can be got for nothing, where
every fish that comes ashore
has coins or miracles in its mouth.
The stone wall gives up before it gets to the stile, petering out into a moraine of rounded river rocks spreading to either side. A gate holds to a leaning post by one rusted iron finger. It seems to matter little, though, with nothing to say what was once held in or out. In a shallow depression near one grey stone, a killdeer mother frets and whistles like a wind-up tin bird before settling on her speckled clutch of four, her neck and head still bobbing, spy-hopping aspirationally from stone to stone.
When there seemed no other choice we pulled off I-70 and along the frontage road until it dead-ended next to a field of winter wheat cut to stubble and straddled by transmission towers two hundred feet high striding through the land like something sci-fi searching for humans to enslave. But it was just the two of us, not even putting up a fight, standing beside the old Volvo and listening to the wind blow through the power lines, the crackle of the humid afternoon air ionizing, charging, and beneath it all the steady coronal hiss like the rasp of grasshoppers in the cheat grass along the road. The car ticked slowly as it cooled, and when dusk dropped down from the hills, at last you asked if I could feel the ground shiver through the soles of my shoes, feel the ambient electricity along my scalp, or the slightest goddamn arrhythmia in my heart—because if not, you said, leaving the thought unfinished, letting it be carried away with the high wires instead, all the long miles up and over the Rockies and into a million homes where other people who are not us stand in kitchen light and porch light waiting for what comes next, for the end of the line.
C. Wade Bentley lives, teaches, and writes in Salt Lake City. For a good time, he enjoys wandering the Wasatch Mountains and playing with his four grandsons. His poems have appeared or will soon be published in Cimarron Review, Best New Poets, Western Humanities Review, Subtropics, Rattle, Oberon, ARDOR, Clapboard House, Chicago Quarterly Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and Raleigh Review, among others. A chapbook of his poems, Askew, was recently published by Red Ochre Press.