PUNGO RIVER DAWN: February
Cool brown water ripples in ancient cadence
Against our algae-crusted plastic bulkhead, a modern oddity
In this ancient land. The susurration of a breeze through
Yellowed marsh grass heralds the approach of a Great Blue heron,
Swooping to land on spindly legs at the shore.
His head dips; then huge grey wings flap languorously
As he rises with a shriek into the air to
Circle overhead, skinny legs dangling
While he searches for breakfast.
Across Fishing Creek, hounds yap sharply in the woods,
Training for next autumn’s hunt.
A loon’s call echoes through tendrils of dissolving mist,
Repeated by the dog-like bark
Of a tundra swan flapping its huge white wings.
Two scarlet cardinals in a slender pine tree
Sing the day awake,
Courting the dun-colored female
Who flirtatiously darts and lands to preen on our copper roof.
Empty purple martin houses stand erect, waiting for
The March sentinels who will guide
Their flocks to these apartment houses,
Filling them with chattering families along the river’s edge
Only to disappear in the heat of an August day.
At Angus’ grave, paper-whites fertilized by his bones
Thrust their heads through clay earth.
I pick one
And inhale deeply,
Bringing me sharp memories of the shepherd dog
Who swam in this river daily
To chase the wood ducks and gulls away.
Crossing berm and strand, serene
Above our earthly turmoil,
The horses run unbridled in playful gambado
Along the sandy shore.
Frothy graybeards leave their swashmarks,
Crossed by hooves of cantering joy.
Tall reeds stand guard in the dunes,
Alert to the horses' freedom.
The sun's light dances off their shiny hides,
Reminding us how it feels cleansing and gritty
To walk barefoot in the sand.
Numbers on index cards folded in pockets,
Fingers punctuate the air.
Cartons of junque entice a doll bid,
Clusters forming around the few good pieces.
"Hunnder dolla, will ya go a hunter ten, will ya?"
Smoke curls to the ceiling of the drafty
Warehouse, babies perch on daddy's shoulders.
"Two forty-v9e, will ya go two a half, will ya?"
Steaming coffee and oasis from the
Chill of metal walls.
"Both boex, one money, will ya go, will ya?"
Girls in short-shorted shows off her fake tan
Dotted with goosebumps.
"Sold to numb thirty-eight!"
One seeking treasure had found it.
Marni Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries, set in England. The Blue Virgin introduces Nora, an American writer living in Oxford. The Green Remains and The Scarlet Wench follow Nora’s move to the Lake District where murder follows her. In process is The Golden Hour, set in Bath, and premiering in Spring 2015 will be Graff’s new Manhattan series, Death Unscripted, featuring nurse Trudy Genova, a medical consultant for a New York movie studio. Graff is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. She writes crime book reviews at www.auntiemwrites.com and is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven. Graff’s poetry was last seen in Amelia Earhart: A Tribute. Graff's books can be found at Amazon.com or at http://www.bridlepathpress.com, and are available as eBooks.