Poems by Sandra Noel

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Crossing the Wallace Line

by Sandra Noel

From Canary Fall 2015

Sandra lives on Vashon Island in Puget Sound under the shadow of Mount Rainier in the middle of Vashon-Maury Island Watershed, a 37-square-mile area, among about 10,000 humans and many more northwest species of birds, fish, mammals, insects and giant trees.

A full moon spills her silver light over the bay
Teku’s beach is glittering with sea shells and plastic trash.
Just offshore, brave fishermen in small outriggers
bob like toy boats too fragile to survive
the dark wave shadows rolling in
from an off shore typhoon.

I am just a visitor here
without the necessity of bravery
but trying to fit in, to be easy
because I cannot think of another place on earth
I would rather be than under these stars
on this island where Wallace drew his imaginary line
and creatures born in evolutionary isolation
still struggle to survive until the next fire
the next desire for hardwood or hard-ons
more land or bush meat.

With palm frond pen
I draw a line in the sand
between perfect shell and plastic lighter
as if I could stop what is coming–
the great grinding wheel of greed
rolling over forests, beaches, species.
So many others have tried and failed
the line is broken a thousand acres a day
and so they leave, having done (almost) nothing
learning only to love what they cannot save
and living with that hard truth every day, every day
but trying anyway.

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