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Martha's Vineyard
Charlotte Mandel

Cars like a litter of mongrels
nuzzle the seagrass rim of the cove.
Trailing our hosts
we set up a row of shortlegged
canvas chairs and face the water
each with a book angled
on jack-knifed knees.
Quiet rules this blue saucer.
No wind-eroded cliffs
or crashing breakers.
Sibilant surf,
tidal broomstraws stirring
unbroken shells.
Seven white gulls
bob like inflated bath toys
A windsurfer labors his single wing
striped in purple and flamingo pink.
On the sand a lone gull
prints a cuneiform track
towards me on reedy legs
crop bulging.
Fingerlings dart staccato feast
in the bay.Feeding’s easy
for both of us this weekend
guests of the vineyard.
I tip my straw hat, admire
the way the filled pouch of his body
idles in the sun
wingless, so smoothly
do resting feathers conform.
by Charlotte Mandel.
Used with the author’s permission.

Charlotte Mandel is winner of the 2012 New Jersey Poets Prize of $1,000, and was featured reader at the Journal of New Jersey Poets presentation at County College of Morris in April, 2012. As a suburban wife and mother, she wrote no poetry until her true poetic self came to the fore in midlife. That self has now accomplished the publication of seven books of poetry, including two poem-novellas of feminist biblical revision; literary articles; essays on the role of cinema in the life and work of poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle); publishing and editing Saturday's Women, the Eileen W. Barnes Award Anthology; teaching—she recently retired after several years teaching poetry writing at Barnard College Center for Research on Women; and earning awards that include more than a dozen fellowships and residencies. Learn more about Charlotte at

Post New Comment:
Wonderful imagery. We think we recognize the cove. Beautifully done. C&A
Posted 08/28/2012 07:19 PM
the gulls Do look like inflated bath toys! what a poem,- filled with wonderful imagery... thank you, especially from those of us far away from an ocean ~ you have brought it to us. Judy
Posted 08/28/2012 10:52 AM
Beautifully done! So visual. I love the litter of mongrels, nuzzling the seagrass.
Posted 08/28/2012 09:46 AM
Love your poem, Charlotte! I've always wanted to visit the Vineyard, and now you've taken me there. I can just hear that "sibilant surf" and see those gulls and fingerlings.
Posted 08/28/2012 07:20 AM

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