Entre Mareas



We corner the seawall and before us

a stony minefield of shards, lances, knifepoints—

in my water shoes, I balance on the tips. Surely,


anyone would think us tourists, gringos,

but in El Salvador every pastoral landscape

is framed by a jagged blade.


We spy a man positioned on a cliff top, binoculars in hand,

and I wonder if we should turn around,

if he is waiting for a drop


because here, drug runners and fishing boats wear the same guise,

pockets of cocaine sewn into fish bellies,

the Gulf of Fonseca, portal to three countries, crooked hallway


between South America and USA. Or maybe

because it is the season of black-tipped terns,

the man on the cliff top is a hopeful birdwatcher;


gulls pluck at dragonflies threading the sky, pelicans dive-bomb fish,

but he gears his binoculars to the flashing colors of the fishing boats

as their wakes cut across the blue seam.




At the mud flats

clam diggers squat hip deep

in the tide pools,

one arm embraces the top

of a rock, as the other

rounds the bottom,

gloved fingers crab-like, walk the base

of the rocks, to pull the black

and white mollusks from their beds.

Children splash naked

in the shallows,

gaunt dogs patrol the hot sand.

I approach a woman in a desert-army cap

and ask if they eat them in soup,

or cooked with rice.

She looks up and her light green eyes

wrinkle, Asi hacemos nuestras vidas, this

is how we make our lives;

and crouching next to her, a boy

of three or four smashes a fat white clam

against a rock to suck it raw.




Each step shrugs off the water’s grip—

I search the tide pools for life, what is trapped

in this water-globe, this glass coffin—

and the needlefish flick, end to end.


Spiny sea urchins poke between crags

and the blue crabs bodies’

ombré sea meeting sky.



Those who managed to escape—

mangrove seedpods, headstrong

in their germination, unlaced, split

and ready to take root wherever they land.


A dog watches from his rocky perch:

a school of fish, a patch of silver

shoots, launches, and ricochets.



A fluted cone, a whorled peak,

the green of rusted copper—

the unmarred shells click together in my hand,

canticle of a perfect death.




Alexandra Lytton Regalado’s poems and short stories have appeared in Gulf Coast, Narrative, Notre Dame Review, OCHO, Puerto del Sol and elsewhere. She is the winner of the St. Lawrence Book Prize and the Coniston Poetry Prize. Her poetry collection, Matria, (Black Lawrence Press) is forthcoming in 2017. www.alexandralyttonregalado.com