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February: Pemaquid Point

February 4, 2016 | by

A postcard of Pemaquid Point, ca. 1930–45.

Ira Sadoff’s poem “February: Pemaquid Point” appeared in our Winter–Spring 1980 issue. His most recent collection is True Faith (2012). 

The lighthouse as an image
of loneliness has its limits.

For as we stand on the shore
of this ocean, crusted snow

On the hills and the grass dispersed
beneath it, that tower

seems a place where people gather
some vision themselves: the marriage

of rock to water, of wave to snail
washed up on shore. We’re small,

and waving to the lobster boat—
which could be miles away of close

enough to raise our voices to—makes
us wish our journeys took us further,

past witness, to a scene, perhaps,
where we belonged. A man in blue

pulls up his net, tiny fish
swim free from it. And the man

pulling anchor, whose strength
pulls him further from the shore,

pays tribute to our rootlessness.
As he shouts to start the engine up,

To take his course, he leaves us
In the distance, the repeated ritual

Of his wake. And like the water
Stirred against the lighthouse wall,

Breaking up, wave after wave, we
Forget ourselves. Learn our place.