Poet's Corner — August

Jul 31, 2014

Two for August

By William Carpenter of Stockton Springs

When I Was A Seeker

I Sought Both Night and Day

One of the things about living on Route One

in Maine, in summer, all kinds of them go past.

We saw one walking the highway, it must have been

eleven o'clock at night. We almost hit him.

He showed us the Complete Poems of Walt Whitman.

He said, “I wrote this. What do you think of that?”

He said, “Look for me under your bootsoles.”

He said, “I'm walking with Jesus. We're going to Mount Katahdin.”

Later, it was quiet and we could hear him singing:

Go Tell it on the Mountain, then it sounded like

Shenandoah, but he was too far off.

We thought of him with his Maker up on Baxter Peak,

both of them with walking sticks and those Victorian boots.

They might have found what they wanted, or they might

carry their disappointment back down the Appalachian Trail

and keep on seeking, the three of them, bearded, and where

they walked, even on bare rock, or on the shoulder

of Interstate 95, they would leave delicate tongues of grass.


I stood on the front porch last night after

the news, listening for owls. A big one

called somewhere down past Sig's house

near the river: who; It called

and waited, then asked who again. Who? I tried

to wake Daniel up to hear it, but too late,

he was already dreaming, his eyes remmed

under the lids, his hands swam under the covers

as if he were struggling to stay afloat.

I went back out. Another owl had started,

and they were closer, one on each side

of the house, both of them asking who,

and I was the only one left alive to answer.

I could remember. I knew, and I still know,

though I could no more say it then than I can now.

Bill Carpenter, a full-time College of the Atlantic faculty member in Literature and Writing, grew up in central Maine. "When I Was A Seeker/I Sought Both Night And Day" is from his third book of poetry, Speaking Fire at Stones, (Tilbury House, 1992) a collaboration with renowned Maine artist Robert Shetterley. Carpenter's novel, The Wooden Nickel (Little-Brown 2002) is a lobster and whale oriented story, of which the New York Times said, "Melville would have approved." OWL is a previously unpublished poem, which we are very honored and delighted to publish for the first time here.

The poetry column is curated by Ellen Sander, the Poet Laureate of Belfast, and open to submissions. Send submissions in the body of an email (not an attachment) to laureate@belfastpoetry.com. Feel free to use that email address to communicate any questions, requests, suggestions or issues about poetry in Belfast.

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