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Archives: Fall 1999 Table of Contents
Treasure Chest
Poetry by Andrea Cohen


Grey Mist at Long Nook

Day-Glo fishermen wrestle the surf-
cast lines, three rods per wind-swept

wader racing between posts,
like the young internist

piloting from one well-lit
examining room to the next,

where the reader of romance novels
and the layer of bricks

wear their loose dignity
under gauze gowns whose eyelet windows

open for the laying of hands and metal probes.
If asked, the men will name

the species they’re after,
the name of why they wait

in the cold dark with bubbling lanterns,
though what they’re bent on

is the light that pierces
the flapping sea, that swims inside

the belly of any scaled creature
that dwells beneath the startled surface.

Drenched in fluorescence and brilliantly
blown against the grey and gritty shore,

aflame in garments meant
to distinguish them from the natural world,

they seem to be saying, We know
we’re angling at the edge of our lives,

that you’ll need to cull and pluck us
from the blustered swells to save us.

Already our ears are brimming
with waves, the unrelenting rumble

of traincars heavy with expectant cargo,
the raking, throat-caught gospel

of the invisible chain gang’s choir.

Note in a Bottle

The road ends at a stone wall
or the breaking sea.
The road becomes
another road or rutted field
of daffodils where a girl imagines herself
as a road that winds
into a field fevered with flower.

Beside the sea the aquamarine shutters
of thirteen white cottages
slap September’s chill like the landlocked
wings of flightless birds.
Each bleached shack bears a flower’s address:
Wisteria, Primrose, Marigold, Bluebell,
Larkspur, Begonia, Petunia, Salvia,
Iris, Cosmos, Zinnia, Dahlia,
and the last, odd Crocus.

The tourists, who murmuring,
tracked moon-soaked sand from Larkspur
to Primrose have sighed their good-byes,
the flapping, faded horizons
of identical clotheslines
hang empty by each boarded door.
And off to sea the frothy lace of white caps
fans out and sinks, a trail
of trains of drowning brides
who will never be more beautiful.
Like the bottle blown about the ship
the body must be built around the heart
that bears itself to open water.

There was so much I meant
to tell the wind:
Bon voyage, take pictures, keep warm.

Slowly the stars appear
like grains of rice tossed
to fertilize our dreams,
scattered crumbs
to limn a lost way home.

The road back leads ahead.
The world ends, and so begins.

Andrea Cohen’s poetry, stories, and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Ploughshares, The Iowa Review,
and Orion, and in Women on the Verge (St. Martin’s Press, 1999). She is the recipient of a PEN Discovery Award and the
Owl Creek Poetry Prize and is the author of The Cartographer’s Vacation (Owl Creek Press, 1999). She is the
communications director for MIT Sea Grant

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