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The Peninsula


And when autumn finally arrived, I drove
to the southernmost point of Maryland—
strip of land like an outstretched arm
holding a lighthouse in its palm, tower's

           base weathered by surge, half ocean,
           half Potomac. And when sundown came

and the tourists had gone, I walked the jetty,
as we too had walked, plotting from rock
to rock, until we reached the crest, then rested,
our bodies towering over granite.

           From boat or car, we could've been
           any two people watching the bay

merge with something greater: blue-brown
river joining the sea, orange canker
festering in the leaves and brush behind us.
And when your words returned, I found

           a few yards from shore, the place
           soldiers built a hospital to house the Rebel

wounded. Pointing to a stack of planks
you traced the moat and mapped the perimeter,
though "no sane man" would swim to war,
but wait it out for his body to heal, or

           the tide to turn, so he too might
           return home, worn as a field

torn open by rain—which is really
the earth being broken, or the sound we make
breaking each other in silence,
something turning the air—a coldness

           neither can explain but senses
           massing gradually toward us.


Shara Lessley

Two-Headed Nightingale
New Issues Poetry & Prose


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