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TOM MCAFEE DISCOVERY FEATURE Mike White The Tom McAfee Discovery Feature is a continuing series to showcase the work of an outstanding young poet who has not yet published a book. The prize is funded by the family and friends of Tom McAfee. Mike White has had poems appear in The Missouri Review, The New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly, Western Humanities Review, and other magazines. He is currently finishing a Phd. at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. THE STORY / Mike White An enormous island of dust in the south salt air Rises like a shadowy, veined mountain Above the white-violet city shoals, And roofs slant up from the undergloom of dawn. Be still: through watery panes and arcing branches, The dark gold light of catalpa strews our street . . . No one is about, and the mill is yet unlit, And Rose Creek runs too low to hear: hold still. Now morning stars unsheathe in their cumulus gate . . . At this hour, in the story, Aeneas' sword Flashed quick as a thought through the great looping hawsers, And his swanlike ships slid free of that harbor sand . . . Then breath of the oarsmen over the bay, like a song Drifting faint through the arras of morning sleep, And sails caught the midwinter wind. So Anna's cries Couldn't reach them when she found her sister dying. But how could they know what it meant?—the waterfront Alive with the flames of Elissa's altar-pyre? Like a scaling brilliance woven through their wake, Like petals lighting the deeps they longed for— Lighting the face of the sea. The Missouri Review · 125 THE NARCISSUS MOORED / Mike White Coming home under a light helm, With all sails full of a cold and steady breeze, We first took in the flying jib, then climbed Aloft—though scarcely knowing when we moved— And closely reefed the stunsails and topgallants As the river's sea-reach narrowed, and the land Slipped in between the ship and open sea. White gulls dove sweeping through the stripped yards . . . There's little left—from across the bay, we could hear The windborne racket of town, as the tugs drew near, Streaming smoke, and then they towed us landward. —Where none had seen a passage of such calms And headwinds, such high-running seas: A dream of weeks when combers breached the decks, And below, ahead of the mast, we rolled in our sleep As though held in the hull's echoing voice itself . . . Until clear water compassed our bow, and the sails Hung lifeless, weighted as our minds were weighed With a deafening absence, nothingness, The sound of our own blood pounding. But aboard, I never could remember her slim, high lines, Her old-style stern and raking stem, all weathered A brilliant dark from the glassy sea-ways— Not as she stood among the capstans of that quay. From far off, I watched the crew spill quickly out Onto the stones of Tower Hill, scattering In rough knots as the streets rose underfoot And they turned toward the city ... I never Saw them again. In early March, I bought A rock-built farmhouse going to seed some miles From sight of the Pentland Firth, and let it go. And since this land lies deep in the lee Of a treeless, steeply-arched hill, the moonlight Falls here last. One night, the flutelike cry 126 - The Missouri Review Of a hunting bird, I wouldn't know what, Or a shutter loose in a small land wind, woke me— But when I turned out, there was only hearthsmoke Floating in a webbed light on the floor, And a dove-colored stillness over the downs, and a faint path Threading its way through last year's grass to sea. (after Conrad) Mike White The Missouri Review · 127 UNDERWAY / Mike White It is midnight here at the center of the country, Where a minute of rain has just drenched Anthony Street; Along the far curbside, streetlights are mirrored In pools, and moonlight faintly shows puddles On the pavement behind the Campus Lutheran Church. Music and lovers drift from a house or two . . . Bored, unable to sleep, I smoke...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 123-132
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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