Sightings and Possessions, Part 2

The following is a continuation of Sightings and Possessions, my final project for an English course titled “Ecopoetics: Literature and the Environment.” Be sure to read the first part before reading the rest here. Fun fact: these two photos of Sackville’s Waterfowl Park were taken within just a few days of each other, because New Brunswick weather is a fickle thing.

I decided to just post the text of the project rather than trying to recreate the physical journal that I submitted to the professor, partially because I think it still works on its own, and partially because I have exams and limited free time.

In any case, it’s at this point that I started adding some “ecohorror” elements into the project. The journal “timestamps” also disappear toward the end, so divisions between entries are just denoted by double line breaks. I hope you enjoy the rest of the project!

 Sightings and Possessions (cont’d)

12:48
The marsh-bottom mud
breathes harder for want of air,
inhales my boot into its maw
and bites down. I extract my bare foot
and abandon the jetsam
to the immodest depths.

Ripples lick at my shirt-fringes
as I tiptoe deeper
and the water caresses my skin.

My eyes are downcast,
grasping at minnows,
tadpoles, and insects
that skim the surface,
all too small, too readily found.
I must keep searching.

14:41
The marsh is clothing itself in fog,
coughing cotton balls into the air.
The far shore is fading into greyness
bled from the stony water.

The spirit feels my footsteps
as they reverberate through
the submerged foundation.
These are its defense mechanisms,
its evolved preparations.
I must be getting close.

16:01
The fog is denser.
I squint into it,
lamenting the failure
of my prime sense.

Others take its place
as by necessity.
I can smell the fear
suspended in each droplet
of the marsh’s cloud-cloak,
taste its particles of revulsion
on my tongue.
I hear birdcalls
from all around,
distressed sentries
crying for help.
Undercurrents press
against my legs, stomach,
now up to my chest,
swirl through fingertips.

I call out.
I mean you no harm, spirit.
You must know this.
I seek only to explore,
to understand.
You must not hide any longer.

17:37
Sunset is looming,
or at least the fog
grows darker still.
I feel my way forward,
treading deeper at times,
almost up to my neck.
In an unguarded moment,
my naked foot finds
sudden sharpness in the mud
and I howl in pain.
I must keep going.

 

Already so dark.
I stumble once,
go under, surface,
sputter and spit,
find surer footing.
Much easier
than before.
A deep breath,
head under,
hands reaching,
remove remaining boot.
I trust the bundled muscles,
stacked bones, points
of sensation, need no protection.
Feel the mud.
So close.
I know it.

 

Gut rumbles underwater.
Feels distant, elsewhere,
removed. Uncertain.
Push onward.
Need to know,
need to see,
need to feel.
Sparks along my arms,
anxious excitement.

 

Legs tired
but keep moving
Water weighs cold heavy on shoulders
but keeps head up
No light
Trying

 

pull
not there but felt
on feet legs body arms head all
from inside
forward
through water
warmer

 

closer
spirit
there
pull
down
down
down

Author: Mitchell

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

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