Soaking and tilting the woods, a storm
too late in the year to be named
drew offshore for the Maritimes, and I went out
walking the wrack line for whatever
rarity might have churned up-
a boat handpump once, workable after
I knocked the dried sand from it,
and once an albatross
driven broken-winged over the dunes,
which I found in the white mat of itself days later
and verified by its four-inch tubenose.
Where the river has shifted its bed
like a whipcrack in an eon of slow motion
between two high dunes, I came on
a patch of ground that water and wind
had cleared as smoothly as a glove
sweeps snow off a windshield.
It looked like wet asphalt on forty feet
of road lightly sanded. I dared not walk on it,
but stood to its side, seeing it was
a stretch of peat with horseshoe patterns
among wheel tracks, and larger hooves,
probably of oxen, then a few boot prints:
whoever had driven those wagonloads of fish
pitchforked off the trapboats in the river,
and the carts piled with salt hay,
would have ridden, mostly, adding weight
to impressions the peat took and kept.
Orlando Shaw or Phil Ryder, I might have
guessed, names on an old map, though few are
remembered by name here, more by their
back-and-forth traffic on cart roads
from cellar hole to cellar hole,
paths to the kettle ponds, a hillside midden
of sea-clam shells, and in layers the next
anonymous wind tucks back into the berm.
Louisiana State University Press
Copyright ©2007 by Brendan Galvin.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.