Impressions By Douglas Cole

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vicious end of the cove,
black rock and broken trees
tough green seaweed
muscles and hard barnacles
everything picks a spot
to survive
no more transmissions
cell tower whistling silent
over Mount Constitution
I am gathering firewood
someone’s shadow bends
in the oyster garden
sun low over the hills
green black forest dipping
its limbs into the sea
the seagull rises and lets go
the clam falls and shatters on a rock
the gull descends and feeds
centuries of this design
from here all you can see are trees
nothing of the shape of the land
but if you run               then
through the gaps you see everything
oyster gardener banging sand from his traps
sounds like a slow drum or the faltering
heartbeat of the earth
warm sunlight
a father and son walking
down by the edge of the water
I was once both of them
a little kid with a stick
on the beach beating a rock
digging a hole
writing his name in the sand
wind braids the water surface
and cloud palisades look permanent
how many ways we misuse the word
like death and sunrise
from what I see
through these narrow eyes
the ragged sleeve of care
dark night oblivion home everywhere
smoke assembling and torn
and without a flicker of a doubt
accept the moment you are born
the innkeeper says a ghost stole her lunch
in a split second when she wasn’t looking
the cleaning staff say they see Emma
she’s the second from the right
in the photograph next to the bay window
and from the shadowless chair on deck
I leap from a cold passing still life
with a head cloud of unknowing
Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry, a novella, and The White Field, a novel. His work has appeared in several anthologies as well as The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Galway Review, Bitter Oleander, Louisiana Literature and Slipstream. He received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry. He lives and teaches in Seattle. His website is


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