The Poetry of Ellin Anderson


Ellin Anderson

Under the rain's retreating veil,
The marsh is cleft by silvery fingers.
Over the water, the sky is pale;
Over the land, the storm lingers,
And the sand, made smooth like silvery flesh,
Gleams up through pools of quivering mesh
Where the plovers hurry past one white sail.

Moon-round, the pomegranate sun,
Flanked by lightning on either side,
Shines rose-red where the shorebirds run
And draws debris through my inner tide:
Her shell-pink sweater, his ice-green eyes,
The emerald glitter of windblown flies
In the angle where crossing waves collide.

I stand and gaze at a luminous find:
Salt-glass jewels in my upturned palm;
Frosted blue, like eyes gone blind,
Warning me never to look for calm
In the footsteps that fall between land and sea,
In a life that never was meant to be
The cove that shelters a quiet mind.

How could it, when I am nothing less
Than a drop of the passion between these two:
The china shepherd and shepherdess
Deftly hiding the cracks and glue,
For a quiet man is a man of rage,
A ragged maelstrom within a cage
Of reeds, in danger of surging through

To flood sandcastles, float dolls away
On the blue-white horses that rise and break
Over the contours of bar and bay
Where two and a shadow stand and make
Fluid reflections upon the shore
Mirrors of beauty, or something more,
Wondering whether to rest, or stray

By drift of thought, to that western coast
Far to the east, where the sun must go
To show his face like an iron ghost
On the sea of heather we used to know,
Where dreamers cradle their swords beneath
Blood-wet stones on the purple heath,
Safe from the foraging fox and crow.

And now, as we open the picnic chest,
Rich fare can't stifle an old, old fear:
Hunger the never-invited guest
The masterless rover is always near.
I hear "Give! Give!" in the seagull's cry;
They watch my dole with a doubtful eye,
Slow to provide for the bleak stone nest.

The bird flies off with the savory ham,
Skimming the breakers on cloud-grey wings.
We sit and nibble our scones and jam,
Brushing the sand from our old tea things;
And the late day's amber finds me glad
To sit there quietly, wrapped in plaid,
Warm and serene in the chill that clings

To the rain-damp beach, and the air that made
The three of us famished and shivery,
Like those who came down from the hills to trade
Tartan for civil livery;
And who murmur today, through sea and ground:
"Murdered, and stolen away, and drowned
Fortune favors the tide and the blade."

Now the low sun favors, with cold red light,
The winter beauty of each worn face,
And seems to pause in his westward flight,
Forcing the dawn in some other place,
Where birdsong finds our tableau reversed
As the light's last ripple reflects the first
Breaker of morning that night will chase

From the quiet man with the rain-dark hair:
A traveling storm on the sun's bright track,
In search of a haven, serene and fair,
For two lone signs of the zodiac
On a journey that carried them far from here
(And had little to do with me, I fear),
Leaving me kissing the empty air

With words that scroll from my open mouth
Like waves with the wide sea's tale to tell;
They roll to the east, west, north, and south,
Into the tumult of storm and bell,
And return with a burden of wrack and pearls,
Cast on the shore where the tide unfurls
Over one rose and a scallop shell.

After the storm, at close of day,
The marsh is cleft by silvery fingers.
Over the water, the sky is gray;
Over the land, the sweet singers
Glide away to the north, sending notes of gold
Into the wind, as the clouds unfold
All of the colors a heart can hold.


2010 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be copied or used in any way
without written permission from the author.

St. Patrick's Day
Tiger and Blue Jewel

Winter's Hill
Maple-Key Song
November in Camelot

Wassail Song
The Rooster at Midsummer
Liberty Enlightens the People

The Leap
The Goldfinch
Three Bears
Song of the Lily
White Tree at Twilight
The Christmas Tree

Grand Bois du Nord
The Owl
Moth Summer
The Little God of Joy
Photographing the Moon
A Rabbit
Rose, Do You Know
The Two Pining Bachelors

The Harvest Chorus
The Maple Mask
Ghost Cardinal

The Little Heath-Rose
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Song for the Harp

The Spinner
The Prayer of Cephalus
Circe and Ulysses
The Black Arts
Tristan and Isolde & Jupiter's Two Casks

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More Poems by Ellin Anderson

The Little Mermaid
Anne's Hearth