Sightings and Possessions, Part 1

The following poem (or series of poems) is part of a project that I’m working on for one of my English classes this semester, specifically “Ecopoetics: Literature and the Environment.” I decided to submit a creative project framed as the journal of someone on an expedition into the Tantramar Marsh, particularly the area of Sackville’s Waterfowl Park seen above. Accordingly, a big component of the project is the way in which it’s presented, which doesn’t really translate well to a blog post. Hence, I’m only putting the first few “journal entries” here, but I may share the full project in the future if I find a satisfactory format.

Sightings and Possessions

I thump into the marshes
just before the creeping dawn,
mud sucking at my rubber boots,
soles cracking unseen branches.

All khaki-clad I am,
or imagine myself to be,
toting my equipment in cargo pants
and a backpack — notebook, camera,
tools for pursuit and proof.

I come chasing ghost stories,
looking for spirit-presence
between the bulrushes
or curving through the air.
I will not be dissuaded.

Sunrise paints the trees with amber light,
flecks the water with gilt.
I shield my eyes, watch the growing shadows
in my periphery for signs of movement.

I spot a rustle in the tall grass
and rush to investigate,
but am disappointed when a bird emerges,
bursts into the air like a feathered firework,
and disappears.

The spectre is here, I am sure of it.
I have heard and read the tales.
I will find it soon enough.

I have spotted several ducks,
caught snapshots of muskrats,
indexed the local plants and
collected samples, but still
I have seen nothing beyond the ordinary.

Not yet, but
I will.

I am up to my ankles in water.
The essence of this place is hiding from me.
I must give chase.
The backpack and camera
can be left on the shore
where they will be safe and dry.
I will venture waist-deep,
feel with shifting feet the sediment,
tidal leftovers, left-behinds.
It must be out there, down there,
somewhere in the stillness.
I will dredge it up if I have to.


That’s about a third of the overall project. I hope you enjoyed it, and as I said, I might share the rest here once I figure out a good way to do so!

Author: Mitchell

I'm 22 and currently pursuing my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.

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