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Clade Song 13


With her checkerboard back
and zebra collar, the loon

never watches us watching
her. Instead, white belly submerged,

she settles in low in the ripples,
considers diving for what we cannot

see or feel swishing about webbed toes.
Or is it the castaway slivers of dreams—

our own half-remembered stirrings—
that propel her down through the murky

underneath with that spear-shaped bill,
searching for what fills and satisfies

(smelt, minnows, perch, small pebbles
from the depths of lake that help churn digestion,

crunch crayfish and crabs, swallow leeches),
or our late-life visions that startle her into rising,

awkward body scuttling atop the wet
surface of a muted Maine dawn.

Across the corrugated waves, we sit
on the curved shore, where, occasionally,

she’ll struggle to walk, tempted away
from water by mating or an unprotected nest.

But now, having retrieved from the below
what we cannot, she lifts into soft-blue,

a plump seagull not even tipping
her short wings to signal departure,

not even registering the two of us
at first light, waving our human hellos.






Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 14 collections of poetry—most recently Begin with a Question (Paraclete, International Book Award winner, Illumination Book Award winner, CMA Book Award, 3rd place) and the Shanti Arts ekphrastic collections Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For(with photographer Karen Elias)and In the Museum of Her Daughter’s Mind, a collaboration with her artist daughter, Anna Lee Hafer (, Greg Mort, Margaret Munz-Losch, Karen Elias, and others. In addition, she has published the story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite) and 5 children’s and YA books. “Spectators” was written during her month-long writing residency at Monson Arts in Maine. Please see