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Reading a Memoir at Cedar Island

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We arrive eight hours before morning
but the Sound luminesces enough to gloss
jabbed brushstrokes of cedar, the strand

prickled with fringes of eelgrass,
and the world's baby teeth ground down
to this pall of sand.   

It's gusting so strong I can barely pee straight —
You can see in each stunted and strung-out
live oak the shape of the wind's hands.

On this last stand before the Outer Banks
Sharon makes camp while I pay twenty quarters
to shelter stunned

and out-of-context. Such bare slubs of land
the memoir I'm reading calls griefscapes.
The groove fits my tongue

so for forty more pages I keep the light on,
pulled by a man oaring
his way through childhood to a stung

and moondamp first place, all slap and vowel
and grunt-pine punctuation, the no-way-satisfied   
lessing & moring

of the tideshore. I knew in advance of reason
this freight of rain, salt in my hair.
That child I was, what was she mourning

before death charged his first fare?
We wake and hurry to slip our moorings.
The ferry's there.

Source: Poetry (November 2007)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

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Reading a Memoir at Cedar Island

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