Patrick Ramsay is a queer Utah-based poet who was raised in and along the wetlands of the Great Salt Lake. He earned his B.A. in English & creative writing at Weber State University, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of Metaphor Literary Journal. He owns Happy Magpie Book & Quill, an independent pay-what-you-can bookshop in Ogden, Utah, where he frequently hosts literary arts events. His poems focus on land, heart, and community in the West, and they have appeared in Gwarlingo, NPR, Hyacinth Magazine, Halophyte Magazine, LQ Magazine, QSaltLake, Sink Hollow, The Standard-Examiner, and more. You can find more of Patrick’s work in his debut poetry chapbook, “Butterflies are Rare in Beehives” or on Instagram and at patrickramsaypoet.com.
Ode to Antelope Island Becoming a Peninsula
Oh, seahorse mountain,
filleted lake underbelly,
brine shrimp nursery.
You are the Great Salt Lake’s
most potent surprise. You belong
to another planet, but here you are,
all antler and wing and salt crystal,
palming winter like a demi-god.
They call you a wildlife preserve,
a sanctuary for western legends.
The pronghorn, stoic bison,
hobbling porcupine, the sharp
and cursive meadowlark.
When I was a teenager
who wanted to become dirt,
I found reasons to preserve
my animal body along your trails.
The cottontail rabbits who trust
too much at sunset. The gulls
who take me to the ocean
when I shut my eyes. The gold
gold grass at the end of a storm’s
tongue. The gory neon sky.
When lightning licks
the crooks of you, I mourn.
I call my mom. We both talk
about you like our favorite neighbor.
Want to bring you a casserole
when the wildfire ends;
Want to make a little sacrifice
to the god of tomorrow for you.
When someone you love is dying,
you stay with them. So, here I am.
Just like you were. Melting snow
in my cupped hands, carrying
it to your parched mouth,
trying to reciprocate
the act of sanctuary.
Where the Wetlands Went
If you too grew up on the edge
of a cornfield that is now a strip mall,
you might remember dirt clod wars
and the smell of garter snakes.
Their oily garden belch
distinct, defiant, and millipedent.
Their promenades through strawberry
patches and rendezvous on warm grass.
Occasionally reckless enough to be flattened
like fruit leather on the fresh coiling asphalt
of a new suburb swallowing a small town whole.
If you too grew up in the salted
wetlands where the highway ends,
you might remember the sulphuric smut
of incoming storms. The matted air
of decaying brine flies and bison musk.
The seagull’s naïve duet with the Air Force
base drill sirens. You might remember
silhouettes of teething steeples trying
their best to censor the western sun.
You might even remember the lake.
The way it used to be a mirror.
The way it used to be alive.
Confluence of Hands
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