Ma-Lei’l Trail, Arcata, California

There are no trees on the beach it goes on and the water’s so cold
no one swims and on Ma-Lei’l the trees are being swamped
by giant dunes migrating over them as wind blows grains of sand
into the air and they hang there until they’re over the top and falling
on ragged limbs and ragged tree hair (Itla-okla) smothering the tree
until each tree kneels into the sand and over the years
the slump of the dunes alters the landscape—
the movingness of the world is right with us on this trail
moving country into country, one history wiping out another,
upending a familiar world shifting and moving over cities,
lives, shoulders too weighted down to think with no matter
how little or much one knows—shifting sand moves over trees,
fills up ponds and lagoons, chokes a night with images
of future migrations extending into where we are walking.

Martha Ronk is the author of eleven books of poetry, several chapbooks, and Glass Grapes, a collection of short stories. Her most recent book Silences (Omnidawn, 2019, a New York Times notable book), focuses on the elusive, utilizing paintings, photographs, gaps in texts, and the purported quiet of nature. Her book Transfer of Qualities was long-listed for the National Book Award, and Vertigo was a National Poetry Series selection.