Poem: Building Forts

Driftwood Beach, B.C. – Melissa Jean

Building Forts

Written June 14, 2017


Things about building forts:
It can take an afternoon.
You work until the tide comes in.

You find the biggest driftwood
closer to the tracks, near the boulders.
I can’t tell you how they got there,
around and above the boulders
leading up off the beach.

I don’t think the tide gets that high.
They must have been there for decades.
It is the tide itself that tells me it’s
time to head up the trail.
That and the position of the sun
over Semiahmoo Bay.

The tide closes in as I build
and I hope that I have chosen a spot
that won’t be washed away by
this time tomorrow.

Some of the pieces of wood are
shaped like ocean liners themselves,
the long ships I see way out into Georgia Straight
greyed out by the distance.

They are gnarly and burrowed with insect holes.
I collect several of them, walking
as far down the beach as I need to,
piling them within a circle of boulders.

I jab some into the sand for the wall.
Balance those for the roof from one
boulder to another, make a lean to
with the rest and when it is done
and I sit inside I can smell the strong
saltiness of the sea.

Sailboats, crab boats, a far off ferry,
Olympic Peninsula,
A puff of smoke above Cherry Point,
A long train thunders by.
This is just temporary shelter.
The beach changes every day.
The train moves coal across the border.
The next day I look and
There are no remnants,
but I commence the gathering process


By Wendy Stewart

Leave a Reply