Point Judith, Rhode Island

Point Judith, Rhode Island

By Marjorie Thomsen

Point Judith is a village and small cape, on the coast of Narragansett, Rhode Island, on the western side of Narragansett Bay where it opens out onto Rhode Island Sound. The pond, created 120 years ago, is a shallow, four-mile long salt body of water lying behind barrier beaches and sand dunes. The salt pond is an ideal spot to glimpse the unusual occurrence of bioluminescence. 

On a overnight field trip with my son and his class,
the counselor says to lay flat with our bellies against
the damp wooden dock, our eyes over the salt pond.
The fifth graders can’t tamper with the October
stars or squish the almost-full moon. There’s clarity
to the night making the dock floor feel holy—an ancient
cathedral wall laid out beneath our jacketed bodies.


The counselor-scientist speaks firmly but softly
of plankton’s wonder, the gravity of keeping
our flashlights off. She pronounces bioluminescence
in the language of love. With strict instruction,
we stroke the surface of the water with the tips
of our fingers. Like a magic trick, the water sparkles
silvery light; boys cry out fairy dust! and inches
from our faces are the smallest signs of life.

Marjorie Thomsen is the author of Pretty Things Please (Turning Point, 2016). A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have been widely published and have received awards from the New England Poetry Club and The University of Iowa School of Social Work. Many of Thomsen’s poems are inspired from the south, where she was raised, and New England, where she currently lives.

Featured photo by Dan Connolly / CC