A.M. Fog

By Mark Jarman b. 1952 Mark Jarman
Night’s afterbirth, last dream before waking,   
Holding on with dissolving hands,
Out of it came, not a line of old men,
But pairs of headlights, delaying morning.

It felt like tears, like wetted bedsheets,   
And suspended in it like a medicine
In vapor was the ocean’s presence, ghost   
Of deep water and the bite of salt.

Here you found your body again,
The hand before your face and the face it touched,   
Eyes floating, feet on invisible ground,
Vagueness like another skin.

Sent out into it anyway, because it was morning,   
To taste it, touch blind hardness
Like marble ruins, and skirt the edges,
Razors in goosedown, hydrants’ fists.

Abruptly out of it waves appeared,   
Transmuted from hanging silver ore, crafted   
Before the eyes into curving metals
That broke into soup scum, Queen Anne’s lace.

Out of a great nothing, a theology.
Out of the amorphous, an edgeless body   
Or one like a hunting mass of tendrils
That hurried down the sand, moved by hunger.

I remember a gang of friends
Racing a fog bank’s onslaught along the beach.   
Seal-slick, warm from the sun
This thing would eat, they ran laughing.

The fog came on. And they were beautiful,
The three boys and one girl, still in her wetsuit,   
And the dissolution overtaking them,
Their stridency, full of faith, still audible.

All morning bathed in a dovelike brooding.   
The fog satisfied itself by overwhelming
The meagre dew, watering the doors   
0f snails, the leeward mold, and held still.

And then near noon there was a concentration
As if the sky tried to find a slippery word   
Or remember—that’s right—remember
Where it was in an unfamiliar bedroom.

And knew. And switched the light on. Wide awake.

Mark Jarman, “A.M. Fog” from Questions for Ecclesiastes. Copyright © 1997 by Mark Jarman. Reprinted with the permission of the author and Story Line Press, www.storylinepress.com.

Source: Questions for Ecclesiastes (Story Line Press, 1997)

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Poet Mark Jarman b. 1952

Subjects Weather, Religion, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Mark  Jarman


Considered a key figure in both New Narrative and New Formalism, Mark Jarman has exerted a significant influence on contemporary American poetry. In the 1980s, with Robert McDowell, Jarman founded and edited the Reaper, a magazine devoted to reclaiming and promoting poetry that emphasized story and image. Controversially warning "Navel gazers and mannerists” that “their time is running out,” the magazine sought to reestablish . . .

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SUBJECT Weather, Religion, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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