Caroline Pittman lives with her family in Atlanta. Her work can be found in Threepenny, Thrush, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere.
The Strand at Lough Beg
Where you weren’t known, and far from what you knew
– Seamus Heaney
I step offroad and down into wetlands:
waist-high moor grass, sandpiper tracks,
hillocks of whin, manure. All day
the only sounds are winglap, buntings,
whooping swan, grazers clustered lowing
toward the lake’s edge. None bother
watching me. I’m so relieved by this,
exposure limited to sedge. The seepage
on my boots feels kin to salve. Out here
I do not anger you or please you, the sky
opening its solitude, the expanse of marsh
enough to loosen tenderly the story of us
I always wished was true. Like a dried
damselfly in yellow tormentil, a dead
curlew, I leave it and come home to you.
Sometimes I need an unfamiliar wild space to help me separate my own pain from what Marilynne Robinson calls the ‘incandescence’ of those closest to me, ‘that presence, shaped around “I” like a flame on a wick.’ My returned independence often creates new possibilities for connection.