Estuary

Estuary

The tide at crest carries me
To the hard land of my ancestors,
Mountain glen, green onion meadow.

Ebb tide pulls me to open seastead,
Washes from me one poem at a time.

Swirled water teems with life
When the world tilts... falling-off words
Know laughter, salt tears.

There is no way to write this gently:
There may be a plant called
Dead man fingers in the slough, the bog,
The estuary, where my life begins or ends,
Bursting with an unshallow tongue.
Also, common birds of sudden flight,

Glorytime. In spite of all that
Slip under my womanwing...
Plunge like a gull from the infinite

To find harbor in the lee:
I offer contemplation
Of greenbunched daffodils,

Springing,
Or a rudderless leaf riding to the sea,
Home again.

by Barbary Chaapel

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Introduction to Estuary

      "We are more than pleased that Barbary Chaapel has joined the small but growing team at Lost Hills Books. Estuary is her second collection of poems and a significant departure from the earlier book, No Name Harbor, which drew in part upon her 7 years of sailing the Caribbean with her husband aboard the 30ft. Snow Goose. There is haunting beauty in that book, which is as much about love, family, and sexual passion as it is about the sea. These qualities reappear in Estuary, where Barbary returns to the theme of family with a renewed determination to come to terms with her hardscrabble Appalachian youth. Her repertoire of characters includes aunts, uncles, and grandparents. A world and its people come to life in this book. There are the wives of miners who know, each day, that their husbands may not come home, and there is her family's two-hundred mile walk toward the rust belt in search of work. We also read of the search for a sadly missing son, and we see a suddenly lost brother in the morgue. These poems, in turns gritty, sexual, and rebellious, are the echoes of a way of life at once hard and proud."

      "With Estuary, Barbary Chaapel is at the height of her powers, deserving to be thought of with the likes of Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, James Wright, and Gwendolyn Brooks, our great poets of democracy and the American people. She is also the author of Journey of the Snow Goose, a log of her sailing years."

Bruce Henricksen
Lost Hills Books