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CAPE BRETON / Harvey Lillywhite Finally the bleached light solves the darkness, and I discover near St. Margaret's a killick leaning against a wind-beaten boathouse, the small yard at the tip of White Point strewn with dories in a steady headwind, the rusted winch that can only haul memories from the hush of water: one hull still boasting "Monaghan's Fury". I am anchored in my past as the sky is heavy with dusk all day and yet there is the occasional fishing rig that cleaves the Straits, the lookout yawing at the top of a 40 foot boom scouring the clear waters for swordfish. While I watch from the vacant boatyard what is new is churned from clamshells, fishbones, even the white cliffs ground by the swash and backwash. Gradually the shore widens, the same way I go over my past, smoothing a zone where I can settle in, build, and abandon. The Missouri Review · 33 PHOTOGRAPHS / Harvey Lillywhite In this heaven of smiles—the trumpeting mustaches on men with greased back hairdos, women in bathing dresses that are bonfires igniting at their hips— near the busy waters of some resort everyone beams into the camera just as they want to be remembered. What is here comes to so little. The cigar box full of pictures still smells like my grandfather's shirts. Dust grows in the hinges. I have never known the silence before me more clearly. Grandpa stands up in a boat looking to the shore while he floats away in the current his thumbs tucked into his pockets like flightless birds he wants to bury. You can see in his eyes that he misses something, something he wants to touch, so he forgets to take the oars. He wants the dark room in his homeland, to be the small boy falling asleep to stories, fastening his mother's hair around his fingers so he will feel when she gets up and can ask for one more story. They are all so pleased with the world, they've walked away from themselves. Even in these photos they were gone. Damn them and their considerate everlastingness. I'll put away the box, forget it and the smell of the Havana, the smoke that drifted out a hole in our kitchen window when we ate. 34 ¦ The Missouri Review I can remember only what is here, lay my ear to this quiet table. Harvey Lillywhite The Missouri Review · 35 ROOTING / Harvey Lillywhite The morning asks for an end to melancholy: it's amazing, already the roots tap further down like white canes in their clear jars of water and the sun just now emerged from the hill is the commonplace revelation, ignored. Darkness cast out, and the empty lot responds, the flat color of weed stalks, bricks scattered near a crumbled foundation. This rummaging of light is what we mean by hope. But even in discovery there is a blindness, a longing for the fecund dark side of things. I remember a slough, bald cypress and túpelo gum lifting from water green with duckweed, sphagnummoss closing slowly around the shrinking body of open water, the beds of flocculent peat. In that darkness my childhood burned off. Every day now I go to work, rising, like the sun, with the brute momentum that comes with age. I still dream of the cinnamon fern, leatherleaf, cotton sedge, the only place where the wild calla still survives. Last night, I was exhausted when I got home. I saw the moon, warm and huge at the horizon, dredge the twilight until every detail disappeared from the day. The stars came out, and the moon grew into that shopworn globe of history. As I witness the gaining of the light this morning, my dream forgotten, I notice that the cuttings are ready for potting, the pale roots track down. 36 · The Missouri Review ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 33-36
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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