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Ocean.

++++++– For EWL

By Ann Lauterbach.

The stone absorbs heat. Thrown
up shore by a flat, resulting wave, it
stills, no more alive
but hot beneath her feet.

+++++++++++++++++++++That fragment,
chipped from hard rock, expelled,
will leave no gap; the fabric closes
as clouds across blue surfaces.
What event, then, leaves the action
wide?

++++++The tides rise, fall back,
slide, water by water, under, over,
deposit the bright-pronged shell,
the brown sheened rope of eggs,
the combed fish bone
drained perpetually white;
the snail, an open eye in her hand
lifts from its socket of sand.

This spills easily from the mind.
What does it gloss? She seeks
the very practice of time’s crash
upon her self, real distance, not
measured in sequences of place.

++++++++++++++++++++++++A ship
sinks below the fine seam of horizon.

There is no such thing, the blue field
has no edge. She perceives – her eyes,
her ears! No shape she takes has motion
as waves, in change, sustain the ocean.

+++

From The Little Magazine (London), April, 1972.


Ann Lauterbach is Schwab Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College and co-chair of writing in the Milton Avery School of the Arts. She is also a visiting core critic at the Yale Graduate School of the Arts, and a Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundation Fellow. Her most recent collection is Or to Begin Again (Penguin, 2009), a finalist for the National Book Award. We previously noted a review for this book here.

This work, republished by permission, is one of a series of excerpts from literary and art journals not otherwise available online. “Ocean” was published in The Little Magazine (London) in 1972. It is otherwise uncollected. The magazine, edited by Denis Boyles, published work by Ann Lauterbach, Anthony Howell, William Stafford, Robert Coover, Marilyn Hacker, Myra Sklarew, Stephen Wiest, Michelene Victor (Wandor), Bernard Saint, Lawrence Wayne Markert and many others. Selected works are being republished at irregular intervals in The Fortnightly Review’s New Series.

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