Gifts for All, Good Tidings for Island

In Tisbury town on Church street,

the traffic all was stuck

So those who’d gone on shopping sprees

were clearly out of luck.

They grumped and groaned and left their cars,

And some among them longed for bars

Though they could find right many a snack,

To soothe frayed tempers, but — alack —

There was no wine or beer for sale,

Only soft drinks like ginger ale.

Since by one vote the town decreed

It did not want — it did not need

Message To A Widow

Message To A Widow

In a small, protected inlet of the evening pond,

loud white in a strong shaft of final, flaming sun,

one swan lies on quiet water,

(not the two of daily habit),

head buried into breast,

asleep on the movement of a gentle swell.

It is as though this radiant path of sun

were heaven sent

specifically,

to sanctify,

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Eighteen eider ducks

are swimming in the sun

from Vineyard Haven’s harbor

on their lighthouse run

underneath our dock and by

our bright sand cove

they pause to feed, then spin and

dance in pairs, as if in love

with the freezing winter weather

come too soon: November, first

plunging from Indian summer

November 5, 2008

November 5, 2008

The horse is Obama

The geese are Obama

The green field is Obama

The trees on the ridge are Obama

The clouds are Obama

The blue sky is Obama

The woman who cries is Obama

The boy who became a man is Obama

The husband who is away is Obama

The friend who says wow is Obama

The black woman who voted for McCain is Obama

Autumn

Autumn

Dear Crickets, doomed to die,

Bless you, for so am I.

How bravely your song of Autumn

Accepts without remorse

The ordaining of Winter.

Hidden in the hearth,

faith of future generations

Beyond the snow, beyond death:

’Tis humble your chirrup

And full of courage

As we too might be

If we could but see

Dog at the Funeral

Dog at the Funeral

For Dave Willey (1947-2008)

I didn’t see him when two planes did a fly-by,

one on the right peeling off in missing-man formation.

Not until I saw his picture with Dave and Dave’s family —

a big lug of a dog, a Great Dane, but smaller, a Doberman,

but ears cupped, long tail, bright eyes, and an open mouth.

He walked through the door as we sat, looking around

In Their Own Words: Ben Williams

Welcome. We’re here today to get approval to leave this place. To be told that we’re done, al fin, la fine. But if we were to place this summer, right here, on a timeline of the things that our class will create, the ideas that our class will manifest, the places that our class will go, you would find that we, the class of 2008, are not done.

Jeremias

I Remember Jerry best at work

Two drawknives

A peavey

And an ax

A tractor trailer load

Of spiles

Oak trees

From up north

We’d bark

Me a teenage

Local kid

Him a father

Fresh from San Miguel

He came with Bernadette

And the girls

Work for Manuel Santos

In the cemetery

Yardwork

Leaving

Leaving

How can I bear to leave this place,

take the next boat out into the harbor,

pass the buoy, toss

a penny into the water for a return?

How can I bear leaving after 39 years —

built my own house, planted my garden,

tall-trees design, skylight to watch the evening sky,

see the night flight plane lights

blinking their way across the sea.

Down by the Lighthouse

In June my sister, Carole Cowan Dunscombe, died at the age of 51. My parents survived her as no parent should have to do. The timeliness of the Children’s Memorial at Edgartown Light couldn’t have been any better and my parents were able to have a stone placed there in her memory. Carole couldn’t get down to the lighthouse due to her wheelchair, however she spent many days looking out on the light from Memorial Wharf.

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