Ne ta ats means "near the water" in the language of the Tillamooks
The boat moves away from the dock.
Sandbars push up into air rank with the smell of seaweed,
Tangled skeins of green that ride the still skin of the bay at low tide.
You cut the throttle and the hoarse grumble of the engine dies.
In the silent slack of morning we sling our crab pots over the side.
I follow the line of your arm to seals hauled out on the spit,
Brown touching brown bodies smooth as pillows.
Five pelicans gliding low and slow, tilt in formation.
Then, one by one they veer off, flex their wings
And crash, beak first, into the water
From the rocks a heron, neck folded, one foot tucked, watches
Last night the moon threw a white rectangle across our legs
As we lay side by side like seals
One day you or I will be left on our own
Holding close the time we spent
Near the water
Victoria Lewis grew up on the Oregon coast, taught school in Portland and worked as a computer programmer. She has been published in The Oregonian and Teaching Tolerance.
See more of her work in 9.2