Carol Berg

She Collects the Atlantic Ocean

Her fear is that her husband
secretly wants to move to his
landlocked birth state.

So she brings the ocean to her house piece by piece,
begins with seashells in canning jars, oysters
from Well-fleet, clams from Ogunquit.

She stuffs seaweed in empty wine bottles—
dabberlocks in pinot noir bottles, 
sea lettuce in chardonnay, spiraled wrack

in pinot gris. She catches porgies in her hands, 
lays them flat inside her pillowcases, sun-fish among table runners, 
minnows folded in white napkins.

She wears ribbons to catch the sea air
in her hair, wears wool mittens
for gathering the clingy sand.  

She tries weaving the wings of plovers
with the great black-backed gulls
but they just don’t seem to stitch together.

The waves are another trouble.   
How to collect the rip-tides, plunging
breakers, the thermohaline currents?  

She brings empty water bottles,
her mixing bowls, even her best
crystal pitcher and catches what she hopes

is something of the way the ocean moves.  
She pours the indolent ocean water
in her bathtub and waits for the spray.



Seed-animal, you carry sea-brine
bright crunch of water-need.

Packed in the Pastene jar,
you resemble underwater eggs,

encasing silky skeletons of chewy
proteins. Are you jellyfish’s eye,

holding unseen tentacles ready to unfold
in my dry throat? If I crack open

this jar, what will be released
into my kitchen, a catch of flying krill?

A clutch of sea anemones?  
Will you sprout feathery wings

or winged mouths? 
What will I have unleashed once I’ve bitten you

in two between my teeth?


Carol Berg’s poems are forthcoming in Crab Creek Review (Poetry Finalist, 2017), DMQ Review, Sou’wester, The Journal, Spillway, Redactions, Radar Poetry, Verse Wisconsin, and in the anthologies Forgotten Women, A Face to Meet the Faces:  An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poems and Bigger Than They Appear:  An Anthology of Very Small Poems.  Her recent chapbook, The Johnson Girls, is available from dancing girl press. She was winner of a scholarship to Poets on the Coast and a recipient of a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.