Judith Skillman

On Sequim Bay

The great blue heron prefers the shore to winter over,
its flight feathers folded to gray waves, wintering
bone-wet cold to catch the smallish fish of winter,
wearing the dull blackish gray crown on days shortly over
eight hours long. A shrimp boat lights the slaty water
like a moon, casts the lamp far and deep. Winter over
here? How not escape the salt fresh wounds of winter,
its sleepless nights and falls on black ice? The heron over
there moves south on our approach to skim skies wintered
impasto by rain and snow. We walk on stones of one color
where in summer they’d be blue, red, green as marbles. Over
on the calendar, five days to go till solstice. Winter’s over
then, though just starting. Will days grow longer ever
again? We the blink of an age whose cataract’s called winter—
we the Hoosiers of a Washington beach bleached by winter,
indigenous to a rheum unlike any other, wintering over.


Judith Skillman’s work has appeared in Shenandoah, Poetry, Zyzzyva, FIELD, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Awards include an Eric Mathieu King Fund grant from the Academy of American Poets. Her collection Kafka’s Shadows is out from Deerbrook Editions. Visit www.judithskillman.com