The Night Tide

Apr 6, 2018

Today’s poem is “The Night Tide” by Kate Barnes. Kate was Maine’s first poet laureate and the author of four books of poems. She was the daughter of two writers, Elizabeth Coatsworth and Henry Beston. Kate grew up in Massachusetts and spent summers at her parents’ Chimney Pond Farm in Nobleboro.

The Night Tide
by Kate Barnes

When we finally got to the beach house, the night tide turned.
The moon was settling beyond the marshes, Arcturus
still bright above the hill, no wind, and the salt river
moving back to the sea with a silent power
so deep that a yellow planet stood reflected
burning the same from the sky and its calm surface.
“Stay!” said the house, and the curtains touched our shoulders,
the broom fell at our feet, but we turned and ran
beyond the oyster shells and the stunted oak trees
to where the reeds were bending in the shallows
and a few crabs scuttled sideways through the sand
trailing paths of green fire that grew to tendrils,
tendrils to leaves, the phosphorescent branches
blossoming from our bodies as we swam
sideways against the current. When we stood
a moment on the farther shore, we saw
the lamplight beckoning us from the little windows,
and once again we waded into darkness
and swam, half afraid, through the strong, sea-going water
until we felt its slow release and rose
reborn on earth. Then when we walked the beach
our tracks still shone with a green instant fire,
and all that night we swam in a tide of stars,
and all that tide we bloomed in a tree of light.

Poem copyright © 1994 Kate Barnes.
Reprinted from Where the Deer Were
David R. Godine, 1994
by permission of the publisher.