Peter Makuck: "New Year's Day, Bogue Banks"




Freezing and windy for the last two days

but now, through maritime oaks, you take

the footpath, a dark tunnel that opens


on a clean, blue sweep of horizon,

not a boat or a human figure in sight.  

A pod of dolphin rolls past the surf. 


In low sun, the sand fence draws back

shadows to its slats.  Winds have worked

the beach to perfection—smooth curves,


a small crater at each tuft of dune grass,

ripples sculpted in the tawny sand,

a half-buried whelk you want to retrieve,


but the composition sprawled at your feet

is faultless and does not want your prints.

You are as anonymous as that hunkered gull


aiming itself at the onshore winds.  Even tracks

of the gray fox you saw two days ago

dragging a pelican carcass toward the woods


have been blown away.  Now the shiny dorsals

of those dolphin are gone.  A flotilla

of clouds slowly drifts toward the south.


Don’t think of losses, or think at all.

Just study the sky

that deepens its tints, varies its bliss notes


until you turn from the view and make

your way back home,

taking with you as much as you can.



Peter Makuck lives on Bogue Banks, one of North Carolina's barrier islands. His Long Lens: New & Selected Poems was published in 2010 by BOA Editions. His third collection of short stories, Family Matters, is forthcoming from Syracuse University Press. Makuck's work has appeared in The Nation, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, Poetry, Sewanee Review, and elsewhere. He is Distinguished Professor emeritus from East Carolina University and is the former editor of Tar River Poetry, which he founded in 1976.