March 13, 2017

Aimée Sands: “The Reptiles Have It”

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This week, we are excited to offer a new poem by Aimée Sands. Sands is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and the author of The Green-go Turn of Telling (Salmon Poetry 2012.) Poet Bruce Weigl praised this first collection of her poems, writing that “The elegant wedding of fresh intellect and lyric bravado distinguish Aimee Sands’ new poems from much of our recent American poetry.” Sands’ work has appeared or is forthcoming in FIELD, Poet Lore, Beloit Poetry Journal, Salamander, Measure, Poetry Ireland, and other literary journals. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and has co-directed the Brookline Poetry Series in Brookline, Massachusetts since 2001. She is also the producer/director of the independent documentary “What Makes Me White?” and has won numerous awards, including an Emmy, for her television and radio productions. She teaches at Bentley University and leads the Word-Hoard Workshops, a series of poetry craft workshops and master classes.
 
Author’s note:

In this poem, I am trying to immerse myself simultaneously in the physical pleasures of the English language and the damp physicality of Chincoteague Island – a place where a house never belongs entirely to its inhabitants, but also to the spirits of this moody, marshy island. There is a navigational pull going on in the poem between the forces of linguistic play and the forces of tidal memory. “The Reptiles Have It” emerges as both an edgy love poem and an ode to the powers of drenching storms and rising seas.

 

The Reptiles Have It

Chincoteague Island
 
 

where the rains poured themselves
into a porous island until it was full

 

then spread to minor lakes, sudden marshland
for white ibis who came to feed every evening

 

babies grand as their parents, but brown,
deformed bills that hooked, too long to preen

 

and turkey-red legs deep in your yard –

 
 

water a palm of wiggling things, blue crab
that made its way through sewers and died on your lawn –

 

we waded from house to dinner, carrying our shoes,
oil and gasoline sliming the rims, the ibis

 

gathering courage, making their way
from deep backyard to front, rooting, nibbling –

 
 

you gazed from the porch, and came in swearing,
this house moody as you are, lips and eyes,

 

pieces nailed tight to one another –
huffs and coughs in the never-ending rain,

 

soft fingers spreading through loam, saturation
and apologies among the dripping branches:

 

if you ask us we will tell you how
to live here, feet in water, head in storms –

 
 

About leanna

Leanna Petronella is a creative writing doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri.

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