Julia Bouwsma’s poetry collection “Midden” (Fordham University Press, 2018) tells some of the stories and moments from the history of Malaga Island, and this week’s poem comes from that collection. In 1912, the residents of Malaga Island, off the coast of Phippsburg, were forced by the state to leave their homes and scattered to various parts of the mainland.

Bouwsma lives off-the-grid in the mountains of western Maine, where she is a poet, farmer, freelance editor, critic, and librarian. Both of her poetry collections, “Midden” and “Work by Bloodlight” (Cider Press Review, 2017), won Maine Literary Awards for Poetry.

Feeble Minded

By Julia Bouwsma

Abbie Marks

My heart grows tall as a granite house. Stone to the top,

corridor over corridor over corridor, and me—

a hollowed-out candle left burning in the front hall.

“Home,” the late night guest who never arrives. Hear the whisper

like floor drapes I sweep the dust behind: “There are places

for people like you.” I’ve been here so long my mind

is a lost room: boot-squeak and bleach, rusted latch sticking

the trapdoor. “Memory,” a scrap of cotton I fold and fold

until the fabric strips the scent from my palms. If I don’t

make it out, tell my daughters their mother’s skin

is an abandoned shed, grayed pine and dry rot, but inside—

inside holds the taste of salt cod, the sweet clotting of blueberries

drying on tin-roof sun. Tell them to jimmy the lock, to search

if they can. Their fingers will remember. Tell them,

“Find it. I still have the map.”

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is a poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2016 Julia Bouwsma. It appeared in GRIST (online), appears in MIDDEN (Fordham University Press, 2018), and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to www.pressherald.com/tag/deep-water.


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