Poetry Sunday: “The Bay,” by Gail Mazur

The Bay

Dragonflies mating in the greeny shade
of the tamarisk, their brief lives unfettered.

On the bleached bay, becalmed, white sails
adrift under a blanched overheated sky.

Sand-washed, sun-warmed fragments—“sea glass”:
wines tossed—when?— from a party ship;
antique nostrums, a patent bottle’s eroded story.

On the shore tiny green-black mites, terns—
and the calligraphic beach grasses yearning
with the breeze like a printmaker’s lines.

Pale world, green world, aromatic,
moving, still, life we knew together—
in everything I see your hand….

Wild mint at our door, honeysuckle,
fragrant August wind shifting,
dying—nectar, salt, all one breath.


“The Bay,” from Forbidden City, by Gail Mazur. Copyright © 2016 The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. First appeared in Ploughshares under the title “Late Summer.” Forbidden City is available for order here.

Read a review of Forbidden City here and here, and an essay about her work here.


Gail Mazur is the author of seven books of poetry: Nightfire, The Pose of Happiness, The Common, They Can’t Take That Away from Me (a finalist for the National Book Award), Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems (winner of the Massachusetts Book Prize and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), Figures in a Landscape, and Forbidden City. Her next collection, Land’s End, is forthcoming in 2020. She is founding director (since 1973) of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she lives. She taught for many years in Emerson College’s MFA program, and is Visiting Professor in Boston University’s MFA program.


Poet’s Note

For twenty years, my husband and I spent parts of the year living in Provincetown where we had his painting studio. Since his death, it has been both balm and sorrow to be in that beautiful place, alone yet not alone. Memories of him, of the way he saw, were in everything I looked at. The fragility and beauty of the ecosystem, and Cape Cod’s history always washing ashore, are more poignant to me now, and yet also more consoling.

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