Walking at night, I read the house numbers
on those porches lit like vacant stairwells
hung along the mill’s lip, flights of metal
steps any type of weather might fall through,
and this gentle litany tolls the schedule
of departing ferries that take us from
island to city and back again — 1210,
1245 — ferries where the whales bloom
a black and white skirt in our wake, ferries
we drive our big cars onto because now
we can go anywhere, ferries that took
the people from the clear shore of their lives
to the internment camps on the mainland
because nothing could be more dangerous
than living among each other where voices
unnetted and rising in complaint
are a flock of birds that can make no song
but that one which we sing together.
Copyright © 2019 Keetje Kuipers. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, January/February 2019. Used with permission of the author.
Keetje Kuipers is the author of three poetry collections: All Its Charms, forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2019; The Keys to the Jail (BOA Editions, 2014); and Beautiful in the Mouth (BOA Editions, 2010), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Lucas Artist Residency, the Jentel Artist Residency Foundation, and the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, among others. She is a faculty member at Hugo House in Seattle, Washington, and senior editor at Poetry Northwest. She lives on an island in the Salish Sea.
Date Published: 2019-01-07
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