Bird Island

IthicaLit, Winter 2015

There is nothing that lies
On the surface of a desk
Half as true as the sand
At the tip of the island.

The machine of the books
The hard chill of the air
Dissolve at the memory
Of the edge of the island.

Not the click of the mouse
Not the turns of the stacks
But the journeys of the birds
Through the marsh on the island.

The cunning effort,
The achievement of the plan
Will still not suffice
For the loss of the time:

The sun and the wind
And the ripe blue water.
The clear destination,
The end of the island.

Robert Lowell In Gloucester, Massachusetts

The Lake, January 2015

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By the dock beneath our room

The boats lie still in the water.

Your cousins sit with us 

Before we all leave for the concert.

I’ve brought two books for the weekend:

Supernatural Noir

And Lowell’s Selected Poems.

You go in the bathroom to change. 

Kathy rests on the bed by the window

And thumbs through the book of stories.

A decade retired from his business

Jerry picks up the poems,

Sits in the chair by the desk,

Opens the book and reads.

“Listen to this,” he says,

And quotes a couple of lines

I haven’t gotten to yet.

I stand in front of the window

And look at the boats and the water.

A proprietary seagull

Commands the length of the dock.

Behind me Jerry says,

“I like the way he writes.”

First Rodeo

Manifest West: Even Cowboys Carry Cell Phones

edited by Theresa Milbrodt, Western Press Books, 2013

© 2020 by F. Brett Cox and Ruth Ann Pattee