Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

The Cormorant

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

The Cormorant

Article excerpt

for Eunice

Up through the buttercup meadow the children lead

their father. Behind them, gloom

of spruce and fir, thicket through which they pried

into the golden ruckus of the field, toward home:

this rented house where I wait for their return

and believe the scene eternal. They have been out

studying the economy of the sea. They trudged to earn

sand dollars, crab claws, whelk shells, the huge debt

repaid in smithereens along the shore:

ocean, old blowhard, wheezing in the give

and take, gulls grieving the shattered store.

It is your death I can't believe,

last night, inland, away from us, beyond

these drawling compensations of the moon.

If there's an exchange for you, some kind of bond,

it's past negotiation. You died alone.

Across my desk wash memories of ways

I've tried to hold you: that poem of years ago

starring you in your mater dolorosa phase;

or my Sunday picnic sketch in which the show

is stolen by your poised, patrician foot

above whose nakedness the party floats.

No one can hold you now. The point is moot.

I see you standing, marshaling your boats

of gravy, chutney, cranberry, at your vast

harboring Thanksgiving table, fork held aloft

while you survey the victualing of your coast.

We children surged around you, and you laughed.

Downstairs, the screen door slams, and slams me back

into the present, which you do not share. …

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