Martha’s Vineyard, August 2009

Objects in view: one set of sculpted cliffs,
Venerated by the Wampanoags,
Topped by a Yankee lighthouse whose clocklike beam
Won the Paris Exposition prize, one
Steaming sea stirred by an African storm,
One red sunset, one skipping long-limbed child,
My child, whose footprints the sea erases.

Too much to say about all this, too hard
To say it; too many layers, too wide
The scope, from Pilgrims’ footfalls to the trope
Of ocean sunsets as the end of all.
Too much Homer, Arnold, Childe Hassam.
A place we travel hours to admire
Is no sight to try to praise in words.

Better to turn from the loud-resounding sea
To other sites where long-limbed daughters play,
Suns set, and settlers built on worshipped land:
Takeout windows, mowed weeds between sidewalks
And parking lots, driveways, on-ramps, strip malls.
Love not only what glimmers and is vast,
But just as deeply our own darkling plain.

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