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Eric Paul Shaffer


On the Verge of the Usual Mistake

I learned the same thing on the beach again.
Between the sea and the land is a broad white span
                                    where the surf makes lines
                                                and the lines are blank.
On the sand, hermit crabs, broken coral, and wave-worn shells,
            a cowrie with colors fresh from deeper water.

This is the margin change demands of the world.

In the surf, there is a distance before the coral grows,
            before the fish begin, where there is no rock or green.
The empty sand above and below the waves is the space
the tides mark for the moon.  On the sea’s blue edge
nothing grows, nothing rests,
                                                nothing that comes here,
stays here.



Eric Paul Shaffer is author of five books of poetry, most recently Lahaina Noon (Leaping Dog Press, 2005). His poems appear in Ploughshares, Slate, and North American Review. He received the 2002 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, an endowed literary prize given yearly to an established local writer in Hawai'i.
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