Cover image by Randy Barlow; used by permission.
Publication date: November 15, 2010 [125 copies]
Todd Davis, winner of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, teaches creative writing, environmental studies, and American literature at Penn State University’s Altoona College. He is the author of three books of poetry—The Least of These (Michigan State University Press, 2010); Some Heaven (Michigan State University Press, 2007); and Ripe (Bottom Dog Press, 2002)—and co-editor of Making Poems: 40 Poems with Commentary by the Poets (State University of New York Press, 2010). His poems have been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac and by Marion Roach on The Naturalist’s Datebook, as well as by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such journals and magazines as The North American Review, Shenandoah, The Iowa Review, Indiana Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Christian Science Monitor, 5 AM, West Branch, River Styx, Arts & Letters, Quarterly West, Green Mountains Review, Poetry East, Orion, Epoch, Nimrod, Sou’wester, Rattle, The Nebraska Review, and Image. In addition to his creative work, Davis is the author or editor of six scholarly books, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Crusade, or How a Postmodern Harlequin Preached a New Kind of Humanism (State University of New York Press, 2006) and Mapping the Ethical Turn: A Reader in Ethics, Culture, and Literary Theory (University Press of Virginia, 2001).
Thoreau Dreams of Margaret Fuller Three Days after Her Death
He finds himself staring across the shoals of Fire Island,
her body beneath the waves, beneath the crown of a crescent
moon, the coinage of its inconstancy. Her child has already been
rolled in the surf, buried in the clutched arms of a dead sailor.
The sea refuses to give up her body, as she refused to try
for the shore while the ship came apart beneath her. He wonders
if she knew this was a thin place, a space of rest, or if it was simply
the sea’s seduction that laid her patience? The water has stolen
her words: the manuscript’s shell and the winged figure of love
raging for vindication. He knows loss is human, as is the desire
to place blame, to find meaning in death, to weep forever if the body
of the beloved is lost, never to be lowered into the dirt. In the dark
there is always the risk we will run aground, sandbar tossing us
from our bunks, heaving the stern and bringing freight crashing
through the vessel’s side. Even before he arrives nearly
a thousand people comb the wreckage, weigh the planks and spars,
steal away boxes shipped from the old world to this new place
where a woman might conjure, might possess the idea,
all things being equal, that the ballast could right the ship,
that night might allow it to sail safely into harbor.
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