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Ellen Dudley

Ellen Dudley is the author of The Geographic Cure (Four Way Books, 2007) and Slow Burn (Provincetown Arts Press, 1997). She is the recipient of a Vermont Council on the Arts Fellowship and the founding editor and publisher of The Marlboro Review. She lives in Marlboro, Vermont.

By This Poet



On the first full day of summer the sun is up
the sky as far as it will get and now it will
head south to warm the Antipodes, where today
it rains and  gales blow up from the Antarctic.

Here it is summer already, the lawn mowed, garden
weeded and nostalgia for summers past makes her
way into this place. The years of WWII bunkers
on South Beach and the tar coating our feet from 

the boats out there and green-eyed Billy, now gone to
fat and trouble, trying to pull me through his bedroom
window. Now,  Lily Briscoe paints the lighthouse again,
and my cousins across the yard. And the others, all

of them. Grown middle-aged... or dead or sick and
their children, for Christ’s sake,  all grown up.
We were something. The great bonfire on the beach
and sex in the dunes with someone I would

never see or taste again, and hanging on each
other before the fire. The other years:  crossing
the Tyrrhenian Sea in a summer storm, fearing
the boat will sink because they have, they do.

Below decks everyone pukes and prays to Dio,
Deo, Allah, so I go above and lash my sleeping
bag to the deck rail and wedged between 
the bulkhead and two steel rods, I sleep. Nothing

between me and the wild ocean but a clothesline
rope. And awake as we chug into Brindisi,  all
of us repeating grazie, grazie as we disembark to live
another summer. Now, all these years on, we

see another summer coming, relentless in
its blooms and breeze and thunder rolling up
the valley and apple blossoms strewn like snow
flakes on the ground.