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Three Poems

In the tender early silence of a day you imagine belongs to you 
already the contours of the night before forgotten and what that night told
when you went through the dark house 
marking disturbances of light 
along the windowsills and how the stars 
through the glassy distance seemed to have grown uncertain 
of their own 
falling through time
in that new hour you slipped outside into the open night 
the moon shining down onto the mudflat 
small bands of water breaking 
rims of silver light chasing up from the depths 
over the smooth moving blackness 
onto the flat in the dead low tide
it occurred to you then that the coyote you saw 
six hours before on the rock called Devil’s Footprint 
by now must have crossed back over
the surf was a hollow sound far off 
falling toward you
and you wanted only to stay
to empty yourself into the last of that moon 
unevenly reflected on the pocked surface of the flat 
still those strange chasing rims of light in the shallows 
reminding you of something you cannot remember.
The light comes fast now, the wind gone soft even as the tide still runs 
and you can feel the soft tracks of a creature 
moving through you 
the noiseless prints it leaves in the mud that will be gone
by the next tide’s rising


The Clearing

Not long after
below the hayfields
at the edge of the clearing
where the old half-sunken wall runs
I thought I saw you standing
slightly apart from the rest
a coat draped over your arm
your eyes still following me

at the time it was midsummer
and not easy to recognize what I saw or did not see
a body in flight and the shadow it throws in the leaving
there was too much sun on the water
spilled light in my hands
the water holding every failed and fallen color
of the sky holding the night coming on
and the sound of a child running
somewhere through the house
every window flung open
every name on the wind rushing in

I could have turned to you then and said
this is the life I have made

the river freezes the snow falls
the snow rots down the river thaws
the swallows fly out the end of winter into spring
across the fields thick with the sun touching
in that most intimate way the outer edges of things
and when the hay is cut
in the evening it lies
the blue and silver color of the sea
I stand at the edge of the clearing
near the old half-sunken wall where you stood once
as the wild lilies open
for their one day
into fire.


Wilbour Woods

Past the old burying yard comes the turn 
into the woods where we have not gone 
a long time since forgetting
the stillness held in the sweet thick fern 
nothing yet to show the pull to autumn 
already hidden somewhere in the green 
the trout stream runs 
dried up in places now to dark black mud 
and the winding scent of wild swamp rose 
we come into the cleared lit space 
around the pond where the trees have grown up 
long and ashen shadows of themselves 
the same trees that met us once at dusk 
years ago when we were young
and the fireflies were everywhere 
as if they had just hatched out 
you ask if I remember–
a pair of thin-necked birds lift off 
carving through the sky reflected
in the still murk 
their wings nick the surface
pale bodies in flight cast down 
they pass like rain across our hands
and disappear into the brush 
moving shapes our eyes strain for 
holding the promise of a moment 
we have not yet entered.

Dawn Tripp’s fourth novel, Georgia (Random House), was a national bestseller, finalist for the 2016 New England Book Award, and winner of the 2017 Mary Lynn Kotz Award for Art in Literature. Tripp is the author of three previous novels: Game of Secrets, Moon Tide, and The Season of Open Water (all Random House), which won the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction. She is at work on her fifth novel.