John Hanson Mitchell
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Forever Common
Winter 2007-2008
The Ridge Watch
Fall 2007
Landscape Without Turtle
Summer 2007
How the Common Came to Pass
Winter 2006-2007
Archeology of the Garden
Fall 2006
Field Sketches
Summer 2006
Of Floods and Folklore
Spring 2006
Night Life
Winter 2005-2006
Chasing the Chat
Summer 2005
The Yard Watch
Spring 2005
The Clove
Winter 2004-2005
A Short Walk through the Shawmut
Fall 2004
Pasta la Vespa
Summer 2004
El Lobo
Spring 2004
The Forest Primeval
Winter 2003-2004
The Flight of the Wren
Fall 2003
Night of the Falling Stars
Summer 2003
The Breakup
Spring 2003
Field Sketches
Summer 2006


In the first image we see only the black hills under a gibbous moon; bark of coyotes from the woods beyond the field where we are camped. Under the star-pierced curtain of night, with the Lion rising in the east, the conversation is of origins; of galaxies wheeling, stars born and stars dying somewhere out in that endless sea of space and we, here, alone in a field on the North American continent but a match snap of light.

A silence. Then the yelp of coyote. Then a moaning owl, and then we hear, but cannot see, in the black above, somewhere west of the moon and east of the sun, a high, faint calling of an invisible company of sky gods crossing in the night:

Shorebirds flying north to Baffin.


In this one an aquamarine sea beyond. The heavy break of surf on sand. A thud, and then a spear of rushing spume spills up the incline.

Ahead of the surge, a company of tin soldiers retreats on mechanical legs all blurred by dash. They slow and turn, and as the pitch recedes they countercharge, chase the swell seaward. Hobbyhorse heads bobbing.

Another thud. Another seacharge. And then the jump of flight.


Here a lone silhouette courses over the marshes and then drops down to the flats and begins to feed. It’s hot, a salty breeze coming in off the bay, carrying with it the smell of spartina and mud and a whiff of open sea. An east wind blowing. The rise and fall of restless flocks. One of them vaults from the mass and sweeps off on the wind and we hear a triple-note descending call.

In the image you see a glimpse of yellow legs.


In this one the leftovers of summer still linger in the sand; the marshes are quiet, empty, a bleached shell here, a weathered-out buoy, a stray feather. Far off, we see a low cloud of windy gray smoke, then a flashing white signal. The cloud twists, signals white, bunches itself, spread outs, turns, flashes, wheels, sweeps downward, rises, drops, lands in the salt pannes.

At the water’s edge, a single plume of dawn spirits off. And a wind blowing.


A bitter chill in this one, flecks of snow melting on the page. Ice on the rocks and a flying mane of salt spray, ripped landward in the wind, a raw east wind, a merciless wind, chilled by two thousand miles of winter sea.

On the gray rocks below are four rounded shapes, the color of purple stone, washed with raking oceanic light.

Another wave, another horse mane of spray, a wing stretches, a shift among the forms, another surge, the sound of dripping, of seawater in recession.

A bird head rises, and then, under the pall of a lowering North Atlantic sky:



© 2011 John Hanson Mitchell
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