The Sky the Bay Her Eyes

The Sky the Bay Her Eyes
Liz Rose Dolan on Nathaniel Hawthorne
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

After reading Geraldine Brooks’ novel Caleb’s Crossing, which is set in Martha’s Vineyard, Liz visited the stunning island. She writes, “Rumor has it that Nataniel Hawthorne left the innkeeper’s daughter with child. The Scarlet Letter was published in 1847.”


Perhaps his trouser leg brushes
against her muslin skirt
in the Old Whaling Church
whose bells toll

each hour. Does he entice her
with an iced biscuit from the baker’s
on the dock where hardtack
is turned out for sailors?

All is Fra Angelico blue: the sky the bay her eyes.

Is he drunk on tangy, salt air tinged
with whiffs of hot metal and rigging tar
as they amble along the wharves
stacked with barrels of sperm oil?

Does he dare roll up his trousers
slip off her shoes and dip
their white, white feet
among clustered mussels, tangled kelp
in the sequined ripples of Nantucket Sound?

All is Fra Angelico blue: the sky the bay her eyes.

In this watery world does he forget himself
and with the smoothness of a ship
slipping into its berth
echo in her scallop-like ear, Come.

Liz Dolan’s second poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, which is seeking a publisher, was nominated for the Robert McGovern Prize. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street Press. A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best of the Web, she also won a $6,000 established artist fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts in 2009. She recently won $250 for prose from the Nassau Review. Her nine grandkids live one block away from her, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They pepper her life.

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