Author’s Note: “During the first year of the pandemic, with its horrifying death toll, life became local and confined. Yet my sense of the world and its accents had never been sharper. With borders closing and distrust mounting, language felt increasingly significant, a means of maintaining our humanity. All the words that have come to us from elsewhere were like pebbles found on the beach, solid and resonant, the mind, as always, left to sort and array them.”
Harder to net foreign words, those slippery verbs
lacy adjectives, mulish nouns. Cognate to the old
but more porous, the child busily acquiring. Yet
we easily recall Arno, Danube, Limpopo, Yangtze.
Passport safe in a drawer, pandemic borders closed.
When my daughter asked how I lived with my fears
I couldn’t answer her. Unglamorous angst—
in any tongue so burdensome. Each day brings more
so that rain isn’t a mere slick of wetness on the cheek
but flooded bridges, farms; it is corpse and tod.
After all, here’s a syntax, a web, declarative system
by which we point and name. On the beach
lies a welter awaiting some coherence of the mind
or not waiting, in fact, the sea’s breathy vowels
opening, closing, a nudibranch pocketing its own gills.
Voices spill from tour boats to the pebbled shore
and the waves translate: copper, haze, restless tide.
In addition to the Delmarva Review, Carol Alexander’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, About Place Journal, The Common, Denver Quarterly, One, Ruminate, Southern Humanities Review, Terrain.org, Third Wednesday, Free State Review, Matter, Potomac Review, Verdad, and TheWestchester Review. Her most recent collection is Fever and Bone. She co-edited Stronger Than Fear: Poems of Empowerment, Compassion, and Social Justice (Cave Moon Press, 2022). Alexander lives in New York.
Delmarva Review publishes compelling new poetry, short stories, and nonfiction prose selected from thousands of submissions annually. Located in St. Michaels, MD, the literary journal has featured the new writing of more than 500 authors worldwide during its 15-year history. About half are from the Chesapeake and Delmarva region. The journal is available in paperback and digital editions from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Support comes from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org