Barbara Marsh

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Three poems

Pensacola Beach Bridge
I would cross it each new summer, a toll bridge with a hill in the middle to let boats through, the dolphin sign a carnival pointing the way. I'd throw coins in the basket, hear the rattle and ding! before the striped arm went up. The old bridge sat alongside, its draw removed. Fishermen lined its rails, gulls dived for scraps. Everything eased, like my brown legs into sand. Hard bodies, new drugs, I crossed over to them with the songs on the radio -- Take Me to the River, What a Fool Believes, How Do I Survive. Last September, a storm with a boy's name destroyed it. Photographs show great chunks gnashed away en route to the remnants of Oriole Beach, Palafox Street. The birds calling over Pensacola Sound don't know how the seasons rush, single days like the fish they swoop down upon. Perhaps there's no bridge to anywhere we've been. All those stars we see that no longer exist. In the blaze of the September sun, the glints on the still water under what remains.
August in Préau
Maybe it's the sky that reminds me of Icarus. The clouds, the way they move, and the handles of the idle plough take on the shapes of legs, its coulter the body. If only he'd float instead, drift into this field where a farmer left his tractor, a patch of rust and red against the dry grass, each blade thick and sharp, waist-high in the spring. The plough's a sentinel with no food until summer, its wheel a mill heating the cut hay. Fires in the South of France have slowed with the storms, but in our garden near the Vienne, words dry before they reach the page. I consider the word dearth, find air and earth, water and death, and the wind that held Icarus as he flew, just for a moment, into the senseless clouds.
London Fields
There's a man out feeding Crowtown -- the black pools round his feet, beaks stark against white crumbs and not a pigeon in sight -- they used to gather on the other side of the field, but not today, today it's all crows and the muttering drops of rain and a blue-grey squirrel who leaps like Nijinsky across the dry leaves. They're big, these crows and they're plotting something. I heard one of them the other day talking to himself above my head as he lumped across my metal roof with the weight of a man.