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Grace Bauer


Listen to Grace Bauer read "Corsons Inlet"

Corsons Inlet

after A.R. Ammons

I hike once more this morning, summer easing into fall,
down the path, across the dunes,
   then right, the long way around
      along the shore

I follow your footsteps

though forty years of sprawl has altered the landscape
beyond any route
             I can map
      out of your words—

There are more
straight lines, more blocks and boxes
                than you would have
condos profuse now
      as gulls
on both inlet and ocean side,
                         but nature
still seems to prefer
      the curve, to insist

on meandering
              as your mirroring mind did,
                           as mine does now,
back to your poem, which I have been reading
      each morning, hoping
             it will reveal
about this place. And poetry.
                     The mutual geographies
              we have explored.

Most afternoons I head to the beach,
        kick off my flip-flops and
      into the waves
              regardless of weather
to get my fill of ocean while I can.
               today’s crisp air prompted me
      to venture
                     across both bridges, past the bored gaze
                     of the toll taker,
                     the drivers who each took
    a second to return my wave,
the fishermen
                who curiously eye my lack
                of rod and reel—
which would at least give me a reason for being
       out this far
they could understand.

But I amble
              without purpose.
No direction. No goal.
                 being anywhere
                               I end up.

Could a life be lived as aimlessly?—
            each day a disorder
of passing
   haphazard as the welter
washed up on this shore?
And would that be to savor or squander?

          To accept
the becoming
thought, you wrote
              after your own walk,
but how to do so when the mundane
                         muddies every eddy
               beyond meaning

And how to keep life
                when one’s own species
seems to choose death over
   and over?

Marsh grass sways
in the steady breeze,
            as the seasonal swarm
   of starlings
             (that hasn’t changed)
their pretty havoc across a cloudless sky,
               a convergence of chaos
in a mass of motion.

In one pond, I startle two snowy egrets,
            in another
    a great blue heron startles me
as does the woman
            a little further on
    as I am, except
for a cell phone,
                          strange shell
               she cradles to her ear.

I have tallied up my sightings
               of gulls, terns, sanderlings, plovers
    a few others I searched
though the Field Guide for,
    to name them
              into a kind of knowledge—

an ordering
             of a multitude of disorder,
beyond counting
              which you came to
                          reject—or perhaps
    just give up on, as I finally do

content to just watch
              all those birds
                             winging it
as I walk

             a new, another walk.



Grace Bauer's books include Retreats & Recognitions, Beholding Eye, and The Women at the Well, as well as several chapbooks of poems. She is also co-editor of the anthology, Umpteen Ways of Looking at a Possum: Critical & Creative Responses to Everette Maddox. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
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