At the Portal by Devon Balwit

At the Portal

Beach fog not yet burned away, the rocks and their creatures
share a palette of grey. It’s up to me to discern
the living in their basalt niches and name them

as best I can: barnacle, limpet, crab. I roll up my sleeves
and reach for what interests me, cupping an anemone,
cool to the touch. We are not of the same order,

the same family, yet I swear, tentacles indrawn
like breath, it waits to see what I’ll do next. It wants
to live. When I withdraw, it releases each finger

with a sigh. Some will chide me for anthropomorphizing,
swearing no crab belligerent, no chiton tenacious.
What can we do but meet at the portal of semblance,

you also from another family, another order? All
I can say in my defense is that I always return my subjects
when I’m done, much as I found them.

by Devon Balwit

Editor’s Note: The conversational tone of this poem does not detract from the ultimate conclusion—fog can both obscure and focus reality.