The Boiler

Sarah Ann Winn

HAUNTING THE LAST HOUSE ON HOLLAND ISLAND,
FALLEN INTO THE BAY, A GHOST CENTO

                                              The last house on the northern end of Holland Island
                                                                      has fallen into the Chesapeake Bay.

                                              Kim Hairston, “Chesapeake Bay Island Vanishes.”
                                              Baltimore Sun October 21, 2010

And were you lost, I would be
among the stones and the red seaweed,
chairs and red leaves
where I fail to fit in (and I’m not trying) or

not-yet-dead, not yet-lost, not-yet-taken
into the mirror—can I take it from you, what would it take?
When does a moment end?

In this season of salt
within, without, I’d repeat the prayer,
til the rooms, blurred like water, like blood,
dance the length of the old wreck,
a path in the dark wood, where the trees,
diffuse, push boundaries.

So you are with me far into the past.
I’ve looked over the photographs and they all are of you,
the oysters that hid in the bloody coral.
Now I’ve broken my ties with the world of red dust.
Is it true you have no fear?

An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop, now there’s a pearl.
Find pleasure in the woods beside the path
of an object toward the light.

Sources: Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, Karen An-Hwei Lee, Marina Tsvetsaeva trans. by Elaine Feinsten, Jane Hirschfield, Jorie Graham, Rae Armantrout, Linda Pastan, Sharon Olds, Naomi Shihab Nye, Charles Simic, Sally Ball, Heid E. Erdrich, Robert Bly, Michael Palmer, Edward Hirsch, Han Shan, trans. by Burton Watson, Margaret Atwood, Rumi, trans .by Coleman Barks, Mark Doty, Elizabeth Bishop

REVISING THE LAST HOUSE

The walls were already white
washed, stripped clean of tint
and accent. I lineated each
into grade school paper, tilted across
a desk larger than the house, margins
invisible in the drifting sea, still three
hole punched, one space conveniently
positioned already, above an outlet

where someone’s fist may have landed.
When I finished ruling the rooms,
I started the letter I’d never
written. Jellyfish drifting like thoughts,
schools of silver read along,
while sharks curved near
an accusation, near a plea,
the weakest parts, already broken.

Then I painted fault lines, some
stretching from corners, some mid-way
across, some creeping up from
baseboards. It was easy
to find where the shade might
fit, where a rend might happen,
where, if Poseidon’s hand seized
in anger, every memory written
in that house might crumple.


___________________________

Sarah Ann Winn‘s poems have appeared or will appear in Cider Press Review, Hobart (online), Massachusetts Review, Quarterly West, and RHINO, among others. Porkbelly will be releasing her micro chapbook, containing more poems from Holland Island, in Summer of 2016. Her chapbook, Portage, is available as a free download from Sundress Publications. Visit her at http://bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling on Twitter.