Iowa Writes

WARREN SLESINGER
Never Simple or Still


Save for the shorebirds, the beach is empty,
the barren sandbars cold, and the sea in the offing,
the sea that shimmers in the light from a high overcast,
a wind-blown patch of foam.

The man out walking would not be on the beach
but for the blaze of memory, and the distance
of his walk is not of interest unless it reminds him
of a place like this, and it is still visible

in his consciousness: the figure of a girl
in a skin-tight suit with slipped straps; his fingers
slick with lotion; its sweet-tipped scent in the sunshine
that remains within the reach and retreat of his memory

Save for the shorebirds, the beach is empty,
the barren sandbars cold, and the sea in the offing,
the sea that shimmers in the light from a high overcast,
a wind-blown patch of foam.

The man out walking would not be on the beach
but for the blaze of memory, and the distance
of his walk is not of interest unless it reminds him
of a place like this, and it is still visible

in his consciousness: the figure of a girl
in a skin-tight suit with slipped straps; his fingers
slick with lotion; its sweet-tipped scent in the sunshine
that remains within the reach and retreat of his memory

and the interplay of wind, clouds, and light
on the sea that is never simple or still, but the way,
his way, is always the same, and she not sharply defined:
her hair a blur, her face plain, her eyes straining

to find if he meant to quit her entirely,
and yet, he remembers her bare little body chilly with sweat
at the end of sex when the swirling water forms a trough
that drains the colors from the shells as the tide ebbs

from the creeks and oyster beds that seem to shudder
in the surge, and slide forward in the lull;
the sea to withhold, and hurl itself at the shore again,
and his remorse has no resolution.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


WARREN SLESINGER

Warren Slesinger, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, retired from the University of South Carolina Press where he was an editor. He lives on the coast and teaches part-time at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. With Stephen Corey, he compiled and edited Spreading the Word: Editors on Poetry for The Bench Press which he founded twenty years ago.

This page was first displayed
on August 01, 2006

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