Low Tide
by Ruth Bavetta

A shiplike rock sails
upon its own shadow, prow
warty with anemones;
water, green and pale, wears
a scrim of foamy lace;
minnows dart from sun
to shadow to sun.

A single piece of kelp,
carved from amber, floats
gently in a shallow bowl; eelgrass
sways from a crevice, strands
abandoned in a mermaid’s comb.

A hermit crab, lugging
his purloined home,
clambers from one spot
to another almost identical.
Barnacles stop kicking
food into their mouths, close
their shingles tightly against the heat.

Everything that lives
in these twin worlds
of water and of air
lies exposed.
The sky, shattered,
smiles back upon itself
in the green water.

SOURCE: “Low Tide” appears in Ruth Bavetta‘s poetry collection Embers on the Stairs (Moon Tide Press, 2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My grandmother had a tiny cottage just few steps from the sand in Laguna Beach, California. Spending time there as a child and young adult forever tied me to the smell of salt and seaweed, the sound of the waves, the sparkle of the afternoon sun on blue.

PHOTOGRAPH: “A Day in Laguna Beach” by Sean Foster. Prints available at

Bavetta copy copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Bavetta’s poems have been published in Rhino, Rattle, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, North American Review, Spillway, Hanging Loose, Poetry East, Poetry New Zealand and numerous others, and are included in the anthologies Wait a Minute; I Have to Take off My Bra, Feast, Pirene’s Fountain Beverage Anthology, Forgetting Home and Twelve Los Angeles Poets. She has published two books, Fugitive Pigments and Embers on the Stairs. A third book, No Longer at this Address, will appear soon. Visit her at