Poem of the Week | November 30, 2010

This week we are proud to feature “Double Take,” by Ellen Dudis.  The poem is previously unpublished. Dudis lives on a farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Her poems have appeared in many journals, literary magazines and anthologies, most recently Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer’s Disease, from Kent State University Press.

Author’s Note: “One summer on Captiva Island, Florida, a young cormorant adopted my husband, following him up and down the beach like a little Charlie Chaplin in feathers.  He waited at the waterline when Joe threw his cast net and accepted bait from his hands.  It’s one thing to observe a wild creature in its habitat and be moved by its naturalness–being an on-looker includes unexpressed longings to bridge the distance, share the experience.  It’s quite another when such an individual approaches you from his corner of the animal kingdom, apparently motivated by personal curiosity not unlike ours and, memorably, by his endearing expectation of our generous response.  That’s the poem yet to be written…”

Double Take

So softly somersaults the cormorant,
as though the cold were nothing more than loss
of color to the winter light, a want
of largesse.  Pools inscribe themselves across
the tidal page where slips this private diver
into his hunger and his heart’s content.
Like that, his place dissolves–without a shiver,
erased at once by sea’s and air’s consent,
whose swirling surfaces are past the stay
for meaning or reversal.  Not so soft
a passage lifts him.  Rowdy flap and spray
contest the effort now.  Heaving aloft
a body of outburst and flying glass
his mirror image shatters what it was.