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Two Poems


... Until Suddenly, Last Summer

I can't end another letter home with the word "again."
To do so would imply everything I experience here
has happened before, if not to me then to someone.
The singularity of this moment is what I long for,
my husband beside me as we watch the harbor,
seven o'clock sun turning each gray saltbox rose
and the Clara Emma so clean, rocking despite or
because she's anchored leeward, white as teeth.
Her captain scrubbed her pure on this first day
of summer. He'll do it again. We can't avoid it
nor can Cathedral Woods escape Notre Dame,
that monolith for which the woods was named.
I was in Paris twice. A hand lighting a candle
then a hand pulling away to shake out the flame
is a common enough gesture at Notre Dame.
But it's usual here to see a single silver pheasant
stalk the length of Monhegan and stop at a cliff
that ends in ocean. The weather has turned, finally.
Waking to sun is a contiguous sensation: last night
we watched the same sun melt into Manana Island
and it being Memorial Day, I tried to remember
his hand on my shoulder, manic swoosh of gulls
as if what's dead in the water had only just died.
The Island Inn, another sort of summer cathedral,
dominated with Quaker solemnity and judged
the scene before us, half-blocking the ocean
with its row of blood windows. My mind went
to Suddenly, Last Summer, that Williams play
in which every summer, a life's worth of them,
culminates in one woman witnessing a horror
so singular, all that came before and all that comes
leaves her begging to keep her memory whole.
 

The Stag at Eve

In my cries I don't cease (some dumb bird)
when from the swinging trees a stag at eve

comes prancing, body dappled by the shadows
of dripping leaves. It's fall, after all, when

the land undoes its lingerie laces
and stands naked for the dark wood, balding

plains, for parking lots slick with strange water,
for hills growing lush in emptiness

and into this scene enters the stag, moon lunate
and swinging on a tether of leather

scored then cured, from one just like him a year
earlier. Some dumb bird, I bid him hello

and goodbye in a shriek so lusty he
turns his expensive head just to curse me.


Lesley Jenike

Holy Island
Gold Wake Press


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