Written in Arlington

During the month of April 2020, Arlington Poet Laureate Emerita Katherine E. Young is posting poems from the forthcoming anthology Written in Arlington, which showcases the poets and poems of Arlington, Virginia.


First Light
by Karenne Wood


At this hour, who could discern where land ends,
or water, where creek becomes bay, bay becomes
river and stretches across to a blue verge
of Maryland, all the way black now, invisible.

Through July’s haze, the first light is a brushstroke
of gray seeping in. Ducks totter up the beach,
short bowlegged sailors. Over the water, duck blinds
loom as improbable creatures who graze a pale field.

From the marina around the bend, two crabbers set out.
Their diesel chugs reverberate as prows cut new waves.
Mockingbirds swoop, flash their shoulders like women
advertising summer dresses. Herons cast themselves down.

What matters? At the end, we become what we have
loved, each thing that transfixed us in the rapture
of its moment, its grace of its own making, ours the same.
We grow around the land as it grew around us, and

dawn crosses over us, whether asleep in nests or
berths or in the ground becoming life again. Here is
the moment: here, among herons, ospreys, morning,
river. I believe in this light: it is the light of the world.

Karenne Wood (1960-2019) authored two poetry collections, Markings on Earth and Weaving the Boundary. Her work was included in the native writing anthologies Sister NationsNew Poets of Native NationsSingWillow’s WhisperGhost Fishing, and The People Who Stayed, as well as in former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith’s podcast, The Slowdown. A member of the Monacan Indian Nation, she was recognized in 2015 by the Library of Virginia as one of the notable Virginia Women in History. “First Light” appears in Markings on Earth

Written in Arlington / Spoken in Arlington is a print and digital collection of the poets and poems of Arlington, VA, edited by Katherine E. Young and published by Paycock Press (forthcoming, fall 2020). It is supported in part by Arlington County through the Arlington Cultural Affairs division of Arlington Economic Development and the Arlington Commission for the Arts. For more information, visit Arlington Arts.

Image: After the Rain mixed media/collage on canvas by Anya Getter (fragment)

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