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Jacqueline Marcus: Two Poems
Right Exit | The Clearing

Right Exit

I don't know what brought me to the shore tonight.
Maybe it was the light, splashing the cliffs, deepening the rocks, quietly.
Or maybe the rain, with its old story,
slightly burning with the tides.

Whatever the reason, I pulled a right,
signaling to no one in particular,
veering off to Montana de Oro, the wind-flown dunes and fog,
where the sea tumbles beside itself like a black hole
in the delicate yellows of the sun.

This beautiful mist
                                                touching rocks,
and the pearl-colored shell of the soul.
How easy it is to leave this body—
the way a train passes an abandoned town,
the way the trees sink in autumn.

There was a time when I used to ask the right questions.
Now I don't even know what it means
to kick up the dirt.

The night flares like a single candle.

                                                And there's the moon:
rising slowly,
taking the long road home.

The Clearing

            Avoiding the usual distractions,
I took the long road up Sea Canyon,
past the grove of oaks,
weathered and solemn as the barn
in the ornamental sun like a monarch,
and up past the constellation of birds,
glistening in the snowy fog.
I turned three curves around the top of the mountain
until I reached the fence
that divides the visible from the ocean.

            And after the fog rolled back its sleeve,
I watched the sun lower its wing like a light-blue heron.
Somebody planted a garden of peppers, tomatoes, apples...

            I was thinking about Mandlestam—
rustling through the bins for something to eat.
Exiled. Tortured.
   I know what he would say in spite of himself.

            The sun flares up one last time above the ocean.

Are you going to let a lousy fence stop you from entering that clearing?

Poet's Biography:
Jacqueline Marcus' debut collection of poems, Close to the Shore, was published by Michigan State University Press (December 2002). Jacqueline Marcus' poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Antioch Review, The Journal, The Ohio Review, The Literary Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Poetry International, Samsara Quarterly and elsewhere. New poems are forthcoming in The Yalobusha Review and Newtopia Magazine. She teaches philosophy at Cuesta College and is the editor of

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