Stephen Robertson

Slanting Lines

Ebb tide

First I carefully let go

just as far as I can reach

the flotsam brought in on the flow:

time to mark the beach.

Now I start to trickle back

over wet ground, under sky,

from marsh just covered in the slack:

time to let it dry.

Now I cut new rivulets

to drain the chains of pools that lace

the spreading sands and soft mudflats:

time to gather pace.

Now I rush on down the creek

bearing loose things left afloat.

Behind each moored boat runs a wake:

time to gush full spate.

Now my headlong dash abates—

where I once was, the waders team,

rich foraging is in their sights—

time for a gentler stream.

Now I feel the flood’s return

push against my trickle home,

to creep back in when I have gone.

It’s time: my end has come.