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Roberta Clipper

For Dylan Thomas

I could not go into:

The Pacific north of Santa Monica—the Big Sur, San Francisco, Oregon.

The Atlantic north of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, and I don’t know how I did that.

The Finnish Gulf, sister of the Baltic Sea.

The Irish Sea,

turquoise enough to appear tropical, clear and bright,

a sky this blue in Wales as rare as a glimpse into a morgan’s eyes.

The never-ending rush of the waves.

Gulls who could have flown across the Atlantic were it not for their accents—more of a cry than a laugh.

The sun tries but cannot warm my back

against a wind more like spring than summer,

hence the importance of the sheep.

Sheep shite.

Decomposing denizens of the deep.

The salt blowing over the breakers.

On my tongue, Welsh bitters, at once sharp and sweet.


For Dylan Thomas

Go gently into that good night.
Old age burns from heart to stern,
and even the pyramids must turn to dust.

You want anger for that?

So you didn’t light up the sky with your words,
didn’t guard your pearls among the swine.
Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.

Is that the point?
The ego dies, and we stop yearning.

Oh, die, ego, die,
and set me free, pure, open,
no longer able to learn, yes, maybe,

but so much more free to understand.

Roberta Clipper has published two novels-in-stories under the name Robbie Clipper Sethi, The Bride Wore Red and Fifty-Fifty as well as short stories in The Atlantic Monthly, Mademoiselle, The Philadelphia Inquirer and a number of literary magazines and anthologies. Her fiction has won a National Endowment for the Arts award and two fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. In the Monsoon Semester (Fall) 2009, she taught creative writing on a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship at the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad, India. She teaches fiction, poetry, expository writing and literature at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ.

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