Shark Reef is headquartered in the San Juan Islands, one of my favorite places on the planet. It’s named for a particular spot on Lopez, the land portion of which includes a precipitous —yet somehow cozy—rock shelf at island’s edge. You can walk to this place, and if you find yourself in this little corner of the world, with plenty of time and a quiet heart, you should.
Twenty–Seven has nothing at all to do with that place; it was composed on the banks of the river I always refer to as “mine,” which flows through madrone and redwood forests rather south of Lopez Island.
I wrote it after a long morning of the kind of contemplation that feels like it approaches some sort of truth. Unusual, for me. Though I keep trying to stay open for the opportunities.
The epigraph is from Mary Oliver, which on the one hand seemed a little too much—doesn’t everyone quote Oliver? Am I committing a minor crime of cliché? On the other hand, she was great poet, so there. Also, these particular lines were either the seed from which my own poem grew, or the words that came to mind as I read the first draft over—I don’t recall which. So thanks, Mary.
After Twenty-Seven, go read this poem, which is also about a quiet river moment, but my goodness is it a different take.