I first met Jill McCabe Johnson… wait. I’ve never met Jill. Not really. Not in person. But I feel I know Jill well because we’ve chatted on the phone and via email for nearly five years now. We’re locals from the same island archipelago and live only 30 minutes from one another. Jill has an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English. She’s also one of the sweetest people I know. I’m so happy she’s featured here today on The First Page. You’re going to love Jill’s first page contribution from her poetry collection entitled, DIARY OF THE ONE SWELLING SEA.
Diary of the One Swelling Sea by Jill McCabe Johnson
I lifted the great logs of driftwood today,
nudged them an inch or two onto the grassy borders,
I don’t like touching the Dead Zone,
but my girth expands more than the usual expirations.
How did I get so big?
When air fish ride my back, their weight accentuates
my outer sway. They rest. They eat.
Then they spread their feather fins and swim
into Sky as their tails rip wedges of water
away from me. I don’t mind. It doesn’t hurt.
Everything always comes back to me.
My water always falls back.
Sun hid from me today. Pale Mirror
got in his way. I’m drawn to Mirror,
for reasons I cannot fathom
just as I don’t know why I echo Sky.
Sun brings gifts of heat and ascension
when he lulls my water into vapors.
Then Wind carries me to cool
the barren betweens. Everything
in life is giving and returning.
Even Mirror, my night mistress,
rocks me into her push pull give and take.
Most of my lovelies live in the shallows.
Corals shape the clement lagoons
that trap and enrapture Sun’s heat.
Blue starlings, sideways crawlers, damselfish and spinies—
everyone follows plankton,
swallows her into his heart.
But when reef’s crusty edges break,
I can’t stop my cooler waves pawling in.
Water goes where water goes.
Monkey cups slice my surface. They float,
but they also churn,
leaving sea ribbons and sun fish
streaming in pieces behind.
Sometimes I capsize the cups,
but their casements and rotting flesh
gnaw at my depths. I’ve learned.
Contaminations can never be contained.
Better to give the cups passage back,
back to their Dead Zone.
Jill McCabe Johnson is the author of the poetry collection Diary of the One Swelling Sea, and editor of the anthologies Becoming: What Makes a Woman, and Being: What Makes a Man. She is the founder and executive director of Artsmith, a non-profit to support the arts.