KB Ballentine’s sixth collection, The Light Tears Loose, appeared last summer with Blue Light Press. Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others. Her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017) and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017). Learn more at www.kbballentine.com.
I have been dreaming seals
in an ice-edged dawn,
the blue of a nightingale’s flight
scattering into pixie dust.
Wavelets lapping a shingled shore
urge me toward the sea,
sable eyes peeking above the water’s rim.
What do they see from the other side,
heads nipping in silence
through half-water, half-sky?
The ocean embraces them, bodies spiraling,
gliding, curling in a kind of grace.
Whatever follows, whatever their fears
is not here, in this moment, in this place.
Their whiskers, my hair salt-soaked,
frost riming my clothes, I breathe the deep.
Even in sleep I am moon-witched
by the thrusting, tugging tides:
the rumble of the foaming, spraying surf,
curving under and above, giving birth
to whirlpools and rhythms of bliss
where seals frolic in tempests
and sing in my dreams.
Rain again, but roses still bud
blood-red against another gray day.
Clover beckons, white-tongued petals
licking the air even as bees hum,
nuzzle into kiss-colored centers.
Two years ago drought browned
the mountains, burned patches on ridges
where pine once shaded laurel and fern.
The woods smoked for weeks –
a reminder of the searing sun, if we needed one.
The finch fashioned her nest by the front door again.
Every year she scolds us for leaving,
for returning, her small shelter tucked behind
a wreath of lavender. When she startles
from her eggs, I apologize, an urge
to stop, to peer into that woven darkness.
I want to sink into what’s left
of that protective warmth. To remind myself
the smallest hearts can beat in fear.