Eastern Neck

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Eastern Neck

by Kevin Oberlin

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,285 acre island that is managed as part of the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge complex.


Pant legs turned up she wades
out into the Chesapeake,
the marsh quiet around the cold inlet
like a dormant lung encased
in vines and felled trees,
remnants of winter,
the water’s pressure on her whitened ankles
less a pull than the soft suck of barnacles
on driftwood and broken rocks.

She submerges an amaretto bottle,
a bulbous fish she fills with sand and shells,
the round stones she has gathered,

a still-life captured in glass,
a costless substitute for a souvenir,
the purple label’s edges peeled back

from skin as she draws the bubble up,
water skimming the dark hairs of her arms
toward its free fall from her elbows.
The gift is not in this sip of ocean,
but how sunlight streams from her body
like a wing as she looks toward the shore.

Kevin Oberlin teaches at the University of Cincinnati, Blue Ash College, and is the author of the chapbook Spotlit Girl (2008).

Featured image courtesy of Keith Shannon/USFWS

Discover more of our poetry series by selecting Parks & Points & Poetry