Sherry Rind

Norway Lemmings

At first we believed lemmings rained from the sky,
plopped gently down and ran to their burrows under the snow.

When they poked out their heads to scold our passing feet,
we plucked them from the earth like potatoes.

Centuries on, the Disney crew tossed them into a river,
inventing mindless dispersal.

Lemmings conduct most business under snow crust—
eating moss, dating, birthing large batches to feed the foxes.

In these warming years, there’s more water and less snow.
Mud is no place to raise a family.

Hungry foxes shift from lemmings to shorebirds,
owls starve, nests fail.

Now Time lists lemmings among the year’s influencers,
the hand that jerks the chain from the bottom up.

The snow’s fat, wet flakes run into the sea.

Sea Turtle at Tortuguero, Costa Rica

            There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several
            powers, having been originally breathed
            into a few forms or into one…

                        --Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species

Blind, we cross hand to shoulder,
one on one, only our guide knowing the way.
The dark is a tent dropped on my head,
the air a deep bath and my body, gills.
Cautionary whispers float down the line
log ahead, rock, dip
until we pull up in a circle
and our eyes relax into the night.

The sky’s damp cotton batting
bleeds indigo into the sea.
The sand has turned to slate. We are as quiet
as the womb, remembering
our own children newly planted
and even then not quite ours. The hushed surf
fills our ears and chests like heartbeat
until she’s coming breathes along the line.

Our view of life is half imagined
as Venus rises, climbs to dry sand, and begins to dig.
But there’s something she doesn’t like—
a root, the texture of sand, this night—
or she just feels it’s not the time.

The rumor ruffles again—she’s going
but all we see is the torn surface of the sand
until she nears the water line
where—there—the dark intensifies
in the shape and weight of a boulder.
Now we feel the labor of each inch she hauls herself,
pushing in the front flippers, heaving earthbound forward.
She rests between worlds as if, like us,
she has almost grasped the order of things
but then the waves lift.
She is gone from us.

Author Portrait

Sherry Rind is the author of four collections of poetry and editor of two books about Airedale terriers. She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Anhinga Press, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission, and King County Arts Commission. Her poems have appeared recently in Cloudbank Books, Marathon Literary Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Weatherbeaten, and Shark Reef.

View the website of Sherry Rind