Index by Author

The Marjorie Peale Prize, Winter 2017
Talley Kayser
Barrier
Each night I stretch my muscled arc
beside a man who teems with life, whose need
reshapes me daily. Narrow islands clasp our coastline
like a string of pearls, but the gaps between them
seethe with teeth: waves breaking.
How the ocean hungers.


He swells, recedes. He draws me closer,
prizing all I shed. Small secrets and odd bits of scent
churn in the space between us. Twice each day
the rising tide gluts creeks––twice daily,
ebbs. At low tide, rivers lengthen, run
to tongue the sea. Rough oysters rise
and cast damp shadows.


He wove marsh-grass from my hair. He shaped
crab shells from my toenail clippings. Out of a bit
of my spittle flew: a great white bird
long-necked, with rowing wings. Life
is abundant in these protected waters.


—in return, I brace my spine
against great storms.
          Barrier islands guard the coast against
disasters. For more information, see:
lash, pummel, batter, hammer, flay,
          pound, wreck, pelt, scour, and obliterate.
Also: wind, wave, surge, gale, hurricane.


Such is my gift: whatever comes
I bear it. Love,

          I offer you my shelter.

©2017 Talley Kayser