Poetry: North Coast Chorus by Bethan Tyler

In “North Coast Chorus,” the speaker empathizes with the rampant imperfections of nature; like the poet’s flailing body, nature, waves and wind, crash and yet manage to resemble rebirth.


North Coast Chorus

Somewhere near Trinidad on the coast road

A bear cub stumbles into darkness

To feast on beach strawberry,


Redwood and cypress struggle against

Salt wind. The horizon is a smudge,

A failed disposable I took in 2005


Before I saw the whole world through

Auxiliary lenses. The cameras now reshape

My face without asking. Such a loss:


In nature everything fails beautifully.


Tonight the waves are clumsy, they crash too soon.

I love them for this, their hurrying and tripping.

I dare not hold them to a tempo.


O to love my body, which yields to pain,

The way I do these waves.


When we take to the tent the neighbors are laughing.

Ferns feather the ceiling. I try to lose my body

To this landscape, to discard it like a dead thing,


But the pain drones on: alive, alive, alive.

The night smells wet and vegetal, sounds like

Twigs snapping. Everything in motion.


I yield, I fail. Maybe

I’ve confused success with control.


A mile away, the waves keep improvising.

The moon will not foretell their music.


Alive, alive, alive.

Bethan Tyler

Bethan Tyler (she/her) is a disabled poet, a former radio DJ, and the proud kin of a cat named Suzie (after Leonard Cohen's Suzanne). Her poems have been published in the Chattahoochee Review, Fjords Review, Redivider, and Slush Pile Magazine, and are forthcoming in The Scores and Moss. She lives in Oregon.

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