(in honor of nature lovers Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman)

She strolled up the rocky Boothbay beach binoculars in hand
in late spring on Southport Island orange and black monarchs silently alighting on
Coastal Joe-Pye weed AKA Eutrochium dubium the metamorphic rock
sparkling in the sun and you should have seen her eyes sparkling, too, to see
her own beloved star, the center of her galaxy, Dorothy Freeman
perched on the seawall radiant
and it was a favored cat named Jeffie they discussed and it was the letter to Eisenhower
(written by his Secretary of Agriculture) claiming that since Rachel was
attractive and unmarried she was probably a Communist, and both of them howled with laughter — if he only knew — but he was the ambassador of the chemical companies the
Odysseus of pesticides the pugilist poster boy of toxins
and they listened together with their heads touching to the liquid sound of the Pemaquid buoy bell and they sang the praises of Keats who knew that
a thing of beauty is a joy forever
and they sang the praises of Wednesday for being their favorite day
Wednesdays the one day they in the week when they could be together
but even Wednesdays when they were apart and a little oasis of peace and sweet dreams
marked the space inside her body where the awareness of the other lived
and they stood and linked arms and let waves wash over feet;
and everywhere in America everyone reading the Atlantic Monthly read a story called Undersea
and did not know that “R.L.” was Rachel, was a woman
a woman seen now wrapped like seaweed around another woman who marvels
at the wonder of it all down below in the sea
down in the incomprehensible recesses of the abyss,
where reign utter silence and unvarying cold and eternal night
and the entwined women strolled on.

Poem by Michelle Howard

Michelle identifies as a writer and works as a non-profit grant writer and fundraiser in her day job. Her prized possessions include an autographed first edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan. Eric Utne, founder of Utne Reader Magazine, says author Michelle Howard’s writing “strikes me as a cross between Anna Quindlen and Pipi Longstockings. Like Quindlen, Michelle sees the personal as political, writes clearly and simply, and brings complex social issues alive through personal anecdotes.”