- Two Poems
All the Wild Winds of the World Go Howling Through You
as you write one more poem of longing and send it shivering into the next world because, inside you, it no longer has a home.
What do you expect— to sit under the cedar trees all day and come away the wiser?
Your boy on the winter beach, knee-deep in foam, laughing and stumbling towards his father’s arms, like the rest of us, perhaps, longing for home.
The Sex Life of Sand
A poem found in The Guardian July 2007
The first rule of this world is to grab hold of something. Beneath the beach lies a largely unexplored microscopic ecosystem populated by sand-lickers, sticky-toed worms and four-legged water bears. Scientists estimate that in a few square metres of beach there might be millions.
They have puffed-up bodies and stubby limbs, and use tiny claws to hold on. Some are covered with suction cups that secrete a cement to bind them to grains of sand. Others [End Page 120] use spikes that produce sticky glue. They live on or in between the grains, to them the size of boulders—grains often covered in bacteria that are eaten by invisible (to the naked eye) shrimp-like creatures with waving legs or by larger ones that look like flying carpets with mouths, which propel themselves on bellyfuls of hair and vacuum up bacteria in their giant maws. Still other worms eat the sand grains whole and let their digestive systems clean them off. Out the back end, eventually, comes a trail of clean sand.
Life in this environment is short so these organisms must be ready for reproduction a few days after birth. Some have both male and female organs and can switch back and forth.
Less than a quarter of these microscopic creatures have been identified; finding names is a regular problem. They get named after mothers-in-law and old girlfriends. It is considered bad form to name one after yourself. [End Page 121]
Susan Musgrave has published almost thirty books, including the following: the poetry collections Origami Dove (2011) and What the Small Day Cannot Hold: Collected Poems 1970–1985 (2000); three novels, including the recent Given (2012); three books of essays, including You’re in Canada Now . . . A Memoir of Sorts (2005); four books for children; and seven edited collections. She lives in Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands).