Swamp Babies

I have grown strong, limbs long and tangly, fluent in two places. I speak the stones of New England, shelves of mica along the granite. I speak the aquifers of Florida. Sand and stony loam.

I remember golden sand, thick, rough, clumpy. I remember the cry of gulls and salty stab of brine. There were lobster at the docks. There were clam shells on the beach. I remember sands as fine as powder, white like sugar, and plastic tape tied off like flags on stakes, orange pennants fluttering the wind, and the signs explain all: sea turtle nests, May-October. I remember the smell of salt and swamp, decay and sea, and the tangle of mangrove roots. I’d twine my long limbs around them.

I remember dry air, bloody noses in winter. I remember thick air, a breathable syrup solution containing dragonflies, butterflies, moths. Cicadas in both places, I remember their whine.

New England has grown strange in the intervening years, but I remember the plants, the curls of wild onion in the spring– I can eat that. Florida has grown familiar, known plants I’d not seen before, the blackberries in the backwoods at the height of April. I can eat those, too.

Canoeing up the Myakka, a lazy river, tannin brown? I am a swamp baby now, fluent in two places, belonging to none.

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