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It was your silence that turned me
Out and away from the hollowness
Resounding through this empty place
We sometimes felt was home.
Along the beach road, walking away,
I know one bird on the wire
Is less alone than two
Perched yards apart.
A silent sea stack divides the Pacific
On the fulcrum of its presence,
Cuts a single swell into
Two urgent, shore-bound surges,
Movement rushed by solid stillness,
Water curved by rock,
Rock carved by moving water
Into the shapely hips of Earth’s
Ripe daughter posing in the shallows alone.
I long for a pelagic life, unbound,
In the company of sooty terns
Alone to drown or rise
On some airborne mercy.
Lisa Baldwin: My poem, “Out West,” comes out of an awareness that loneliness has little to do with being alone. I began working on this poem after a trip to the Oregon Coast, a place with deep emotional significance for me but one I had not visited in the seven years following the death of my father. Here I began learning about the beauty of solitude and the sounds that run under and carry silence. “Out West” is the result of this lesson.
Lisa E. Baldwin is a full-time teacher and writer who believes poetry is necessary for a good life. A fifth-generation Oregon native, her poetry draws on the beauty, diversity and history of our place. She lives on a little farm in Southern Oregon with her husband and honeybees.
Leaving Bones Upon the Sand
He could not stay away from the beacon house.
The turret of light pulled him, flopping
up the beach, gills drowning in the air.
There was no desire but the primitive need to satisfy
curiosity about the creature that looked out to sea,
then back to land, with a swivel for a neck.
Realization came too late, there was no mystery and water too far away.
Weariness closed his eyes for the last time,
while fingers of light try to push eyelids open, singing
“Stay at sea, stay at sea.”
Andy Durrenberger: The poem “Leaving Bones Upon the Sand” began as a writing prompt at a Wordstock workshop in 2012. The presenter handed me a postcard of a windswept lighthouse but for some reason the words beacon house seemed more appropriate. Ten furious minutes later I not only had the beginnings of the poem but discovered I was in a workshop for fiction writers. They were patient and kind with their criticism, usually starting their sentence with “you’re a poet!?” No matter, after about a year of adding and subtracting commas , the words finally reflected the idea I intended. With so much of the world pulling us to distraction, it is easy to become drawn by curiosity rather than need. It is when we devote too much of ourselves to one “shiny” that we fail to provide for the mundane and necessary parts of life that make it possible to just breath.
It is an honor to be able to share my poem with so many people and I am thankful to the OPA for their support of Poetry in Oregon.
Andy Durrenberger grew up as the oldest child of a career U.S. Air Force family. By the time he graduated high school there had been seven moves, living in places like Nebraska, Roswell N.M., Puerto Rico and Germany. Relocating to Oregon in 1990, he settled in the Portland area and began a family with his wife, Loralyn. He is a 2007 graduate of Portland State University where his professors included Henry Carlile and Ursula K. Le Guin. Previous poems have been published by Four and Twenty and The Railroad Poetry Project.