Friday, March 17, 2017

Salish Sea

Salish Sea
© Surazeus
2017 03 17

Gray sea waves slither over flesh-tan beach
where dun-winged sanderlings plough the slushed sand
who eat scuzzy green slime on bubbling mud
when tide washes back to the Salish Sea.

Trickles of water flash among white stones
smoothed by ten million years of flushing tides
when sun glitters on broad beach where dead trees
rot to frail splinters by the Salish Sea.

Black-capped chickadees land on rotting logs
and flutter striped wings as they feast on bugs,
then dart spirals into blue gusting wind
as beach stones vanish in the Salish Sea.

Tall man with red skin and flowing black hair
guides large canoes full of people in cloaks
of wolf fur to land on white pebble beach,
then gazes back over the Salish Sea.

Draping black-feather cape over his shoulders,
Skuta pulls raven mask over his face,
and scans blue shadows of moss-draped pine woods,
then leads hunt for food by the Salish Sea.

"Winter is coming soon and snow will fall,
so gather nuts that squirrels hide in pines,
and pluck thimbleberries, currants, and sumac,
then we sail home along the Salish Sea."

Skuta watches children run among pines
and fill tight-woven baskets with brown nuts,
singing as they crouch in thick seal-skin robes,
then gather laughing by the Salish Sea.

While men perch on stones by small waterfall
to spread nets that catch green-spotted rock bass,
women circle bushes to pluck ripe berries
where the sun gleams gold by the Salish Sea.

Clambering back in long red cedar canoes,
small Klallam tribe with baskets of fresh food
chant as they sail home to Khanginit vale,
and follow gulls over the Salish Sea.

Shading blue eyes as he walks dun-sand beach,
Albert Sjoberg watches ghosts in canoes
follow their leader in black raven mask
sail lost forever on the Salish Sea.


  1. I was inspired to write this poem about the Puget Sound where I lived for 15 years (1979-1995) when I read about how Derek Walcott wrote poems about the Caribbean island where he was born and raised.

  2. This poem describes an actual moment in the early 1990s when I was walking on the beach, watching birds and the tides, and thinking about the people who used to live there.