Guest Poet: Paul Marshall

I am pleased to share with you a poem by my friend and fellow Writing Labster, Paul Marshall. Paul’s words have graced this blog before (check out his book, too, Building a Boat: Lessons of a 30-Year Project). Last August, he joined me and a bunch of other mostly-northwest poets in the poetry postcard challenge. His process differed from mine in his usual Marshallian way, and was an inspiration.

One of Paul’s postcard poems will appear in the anthology, 56 Days of August.  In the postcard poem below, Paul writes about a local beach and bears witness to the generations of other visitors who came before him.  It has been many years since I went clam-digging, but I don’t think I’ll ever eat a clam again without feeling his presence.


Native spirits of the Salish Sea
whisper to me as I walk the Double Bluff beach.
The bluff rises like a sentinel
cast in sand and rock.  Standing guard for 15,000 years,
lone soldier left for us by the retreating army of ice.

Butter clams have brought humans to this spot
since the ice left.  Digging into the barnacle
encrusted cobble I feel the cold hands
of the old ones digging alongside mine.
We search for the grey and tan shelled creature that will feed us
this summer night.


3 replies
  1. Bethany
    Bethany says:

    Paul — I love this poem. I have a sorry admission to make, which is that I have not been clamming since I was a kid. But this poem and the images take me straight back. Thank you!


    • Paul Marshall
      Paul Marshall says:

      Thank you Bethany. Perhaps we can go visit the “old ones” and gather dinner
      some day soon. I love the new blog.


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  1. […] a thrill to hold this book in my hands! I first met Paul Marshall at Everett Community College 25 years ago, and we’ve been writing together since we put […]

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