“I Still Taste Salt” by Caragana Ennis

last night I watched the tide polish stones to nothing 
the crunch   of waves on rocks 
thorny branches and the smell of salt 
I raised generations of daughters 
echoes and echoes and echoes 
twigs like teeth and tangled hair 
nothing sounds quite like the sea 
sky grey like a sidewalk wet with rain like 
exhaust fumes like dust that collects in corners 
grey like illness   like endings 
but I was a bird who had never left her island 
so the sky was grey like the sky is grey 
and the waves sounded like waves sound 
and we did as gulls in dream-constructed islands do 
stuck to the trees mostly 
leaving the beaches to team with small   life 
candy-coloured crabs and slimy things living in sometimes puddles 
everything awash in brine and branches bleached white 
and I had lived longer than any bird should 
decades  of collecting food for my flock 
of measuring the curve of horizon to sea
watching the young turn old as tides do 
revealing scattered treasure and sweeping things away 
what happens to those who grow old without growing wise? 
I collected twigs and tried to pretend that the messy line of blue 
where water meets cloud 
was the edge of everything 
but I was well read as birds go 
I knew of infinite somethings 
I knew my wings could never carry me far enough to see them
I knew I was running out of time 
so when thorn thrown shadows grew unbearably long 
and the company of the young no longer made me feel youthful 
I flew to the edge of the sea 
and with a voice of cracked eggshells 
of sun-baked starfish and storms that drown sailors 
I screamed to the sea about the injustice 
of being given something so sweet 
so dirty and painful and exquisite 
that was always always going to be taken away 
when I wake up 
I still taste salt 

CARAGANA ENNIS is a queer woman of settler ancestry living in Treaty Six territory on Turtle Island. She recently completed her Honours English BA and will begin her English MA through the University of Saskatchewan in the fall. She is an organizer and performer in the Saskatoon Spoken Word community.