By Brittney Corrigan
On an afternoon in Annisquam, Massachusetts,
when I was young and she was younger,
a child showed me how to scoop a handful
of wet sand, close a fist around its soft weight,
and let it fall in a slim stream to form castles
whose towers rose in lumps and swirls, an impossible
balancing. She called this dribbling, a technique
with no pail-shaped mounds, no smoothed sides,
no moats. Every sandcastle I’d ever made was suddenly
flattened, taken back to sea. At the tip
of this stretch of beach was a lighthouse, and behind
it the path to Squam Rock—a boulder so large and round
you could climb it only from one angle, with a running start,
and watch the ocean appear where a moment ago
there was only beach grass and sky. Later, visiting
Annisquam’s town hall, I would stand on a twist of stairs
to read the names of sailors lost at sea—their fine, New England
names stacked on the wall in a layering of paint and brick
as if their memories alone kept the building rigid and whole.
And I would visit cemeteries, stones chipped and worn almost
too smooth to decipher, entire plots hidden in the woods
of someone’s backyard. I would take pictures, balancing
the lens in an air rich with cricket noise and salt.
And before leaving, the ribbon for a new bridge would
be cut by a woman 107 years old, her wheelchair guided
by a seven year-old girl—the ribbon falling on either side
so that we all might travel and return.
Brittney Corrigan’s poems have appeared in The Texas Observer, Hayden's Ferry Review, Borderlands, The Blue Mesa Review, Oregon Review, Manzanita Quarterly, Hip Mama, Stringtown, and Many Mountains Moving, among others. She is the poetry editor for the online literary journal Hyperlexia (http://hyperlexiajournal.com/) and lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two children. To read more of Brittney’s work, visit her website at http://brittneycorrigan.wordpress.com/.