Geography as Seen from the Tall Ships,
by Iris Jamahl Dunkle

From lull of dank, wet wood and passage, too many bodies
pressed together; our clothes bleached and worn thin
from sun’s glare and winds incessant blowing.
From the sway that had pooled and gathered in us
like a brackish bilge until we were unable
to understand land, that line of shore defining an end,
then from it the green hills pouring back into
what we were meant to discover. From the weak legs
that strode from the small boat into icy
surf came uncertainty and doubt. The weight
of cargo carried across then dragged off
the ship and over the grassy dunes
to the waiting wagons. There were no maps.
Only ideas and a strange man standing by
the wagons. Still wet we gathered again
close, but far away from what we knew of
ourselves in the rough wood cabs. Two rutted
tracks leading a dusty path out from months
of salt and sway, over the roll of hills.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 3.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, won the Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press in 2013. Dunkle received her B.A. from the George Washington University, her M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University, and her Ph.D. in American Literature from Case Western Reserve University.

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