Issue > Poetry
Laura McCullough

Laura McCullough

Laura McCullough's most recent book of poems, The Wild Night Dress, was selected by Billy Collins as a winner of the Miller Williams Poetry Prize, and is forthcoming from University of Arkansas Press. She is the editor of two anthologies, A Sense of Regard (University of Georgia Press) and The Room and the World: Essays on Stephen Dunn (Syracuse University Press). She is on the faculty of the Sierra Nevada low-res MFA.

Come to the Beach / And Get On with It.

The sea
stars are dying out west, too, on that coast,

while here, we gear up for a good tourist
season, but stars have been dying, as well.
I'm thinking it's all tourist season now,

but someday we have to go home, no one
knowing when the rental is up, contract
come due, and you find out you have to pay

more for the damage you've left behind.
Metaphors only go so far, but sometimes that's all
there is, metaphors of those you loved,

and you, indeed, one yourself: she was this,
this, and this. None of those things being right
or true, not even words like step-mother,

mother, wife, lover, friend, sister. A waste
disease is melting the sea stars, starfish—
they are neither stars nor fish—but I do

remember a warm late March day a few
years back, walking on Asbury Park beach,
the tide low, and a score of them in pools

along the black jetties, sunning themselves,
blood-orange in the glinting still-low sun.
In my hand, I could almost believe one

fell from another world. In the water,
I could almost love the way it moved so
slow it only registered in past tense.


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