Skip to content →

Fog Trench

A sea-gap opens as surf crumbles

onto shifting sediment that pretends to be a beach

but has the bones of 13,000 years;

quartz blades and sea otter pelts, the fur-trade

driving settlements that would commence

the New World with its shipyards and apple orchards,

wheat fields newly immortal in the summer winds

erupting into lumber, salmon, smelters

for goldfields. Then come the wars

with accurate brutalities that spawn the local skill

of finding ways within the wind so aerodynamic

you’d think the jets would get to heaven first—

But I have found a shortcut on the beach,

a little ladder with infinite depth

from the moon that shimmers

on this cool night, crepuscular and orange,

to the plum-black ocean trenches

where only fang-tooths dare to wander.

Those sideways stairs cut into waves

are momentarily distinct before they splinter

into a million strobes of light

as if a million stars were reflected in them.

My old bones shiver.

I am strides away from 30,000 feet.

The stairs close in, the ocean ebbs,

they form again, forever scrambling into place.

A boat comes in, glinting with its sea-light

as if trying to tell us something spectacular.

They were never holy, these local stairs,

as much as knowledge-deepening,

sweetening the commerce, home, and love we toil for

here, before we climb to galaxies offshore

on these dissolving stairs that are no more.

from Forest with CastanetsFind more by Diane Mehta at the library

Copyright © 2018 Diane Mehta
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Diane Mehta Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.