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Writing in Sand While Walking in Walt's Footprints

         As I ebb'd with the ocean of life,
         As I wended the shores I know,
         As I walk'd where the ripples continually wash you ...

                                  —Walt Whitman

Walking the shores with Whitman, under the dimming
stars of the eastern dawn, a small dog at our heels,
the dog's mind mostly in his nose, reeling in the scents
of a half-rotted fish, damp sand, a lost sandal, a beached
jellyfish—he yips, and draws back: a translucent medusa
with a paralyzing sting, a rider of currents, thrown off
by its parents, a generation fixed to the reef: freed,
a gelatinous bell dangling a fringe of arms, boneless,
only the ocean holds it together;
                                              left by the tide, as it
ebb'd with the ocean of life, helpless, it finally dries
on the shore, only a little venom left to burn-
ish the nose of a dog, walking at the heels of an old
poet, who, with a toe, writes a word in the sand,
and the tide, a last flourish of foam, answers in kind.

Eleanor Wilner

The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review

Winter 2016

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