Cedar Cove, Revisited

for John Steffler


There are no straight lines
to square yourself. Even horizon
reads harsh—grey seas churn impatient,
butt against shore and sky. Bearings
taken from the hunch of Guernsey Island,
that age-old stone a reminder of toil.

Here, hands were rough-hewn, akin
to volcanic coast. Digits of crag crammed
close, clamped tight on spades and hatchets,
mended nets. Clung to what little food this
shallow soil allowed. Nails worn blunt and
broken, bulged knuckles gnarled from
the brutal fusion of earth’s work.

This place takes a knack for bucking up.
Land this old knows better than to beg,
knows you’ll come back hungry—questions
circling your skull like a flock of gulls.
Accept this rock for the odd love it yields.

This poem “Cedar Cove, Revisited” originally appeared in Emerging Scholars. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 226 (Autumn 2015): 111.

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