Alice Duggan

Late Book of Three

Three ewes in the low pasture,
wide world, sunny, expanding —
while here inside,

A pharmacy owns the dining room
table, and her bed, in cherry-red sheets,
takes over the livingroom.

Couldn't we leave all this behind,
take a little meander this morning,
not for long —

As we drive along she spins a tale.
The thread begins somewhere
in Ohio and stretches east.

A friend of a friend is in the story,
and who she divorced and what he invented
and how her dad made chowder with

salt pork and every turn she takes has a view
of the world, as we follow the current,
the tidal river.

From high on the bridge we look down on sails,
white and dreaming of late sunshine,

of winter mooring,
of old Maine.

We circle the fort, drive on
to Searsport, where we stop, shake open
the map. The endless outline of coastline

unraveling makes her think of the slow killing
inside her skull. Brains have lots of coastline too,

she says and we agree.
Slowly we drift through town,
pondering what we store,

safe in the crenelated fortress
of brain, and what we cut loose.

She wants it all, all held
within reach. She wants the news,
and the layer under the news,

and the tangled goods in boxes arrived
from the lives of all her dead.

And she wants the stories of generations,
the rumors of love, and the three ewes
in her pasture. She wants to go home

and lie down. Sure, we say, and we turn
and go back over the bridge, look down
on the dull salt flats. It’s such a tender day,

soft and bright, seeming to love us —
promising only the sun in our laps,
colors that deepen, this moment
and that.


Clams In shallow water, hollow
hours sway drifting noon falls away

the causeway’s blue two miles out where
dream cars cross  now and then

toy-sized soft-toned faintly there,
towing no sound My father

came through half his life
for this  dark cedars rough beach
stay cows

He stows  the rope
he firms the knots

He tends  the winds
the little battered boats.

Poems by Alice Duggan have appeared in Sleet Magazine, Water~Stone Review, Poetry East, Tar River Poetry, Alaska Quarterly Review, Sugar House, SAND and other journals; also in a chapbook, A Brittle Thing, from Green Fuse Press and an anthology, Home, from Holy Cow! Press. She’s interested in dailiness, now and in previous generations; in colloquial language, timbre of voices, backwaters of life.