Oct/Nov 2007 Poetry Special Feature

august at 11

by Dorothee Lang

august at 11

in summer, we always headed to the mountains—
to Austria, Switzerland—following alpine paths
earning the amethyst needle, the chamois badge
for multiple stays in the same place

then, one august, we drove to the northern sea
the wind was freezing while we sauntered the sand dunes
yet people ran through the waves in bikinis and shorts
you get used to it, everyone said, it's not that cold

in the evening, we walked to the harbour
to see the metal sailboats, to watch the fishermen
leave on night cruises, catching shrimp and crabs
to sell, to boil alive for tomorrow's supper

the water was almost transparent
there were starfish, everywhere
an army of them, lingering silently
at the edge of the ocean

i kneeled and watched them, urged them
to make a move, to acknowledge my presence
come, my mother said, they will still
be here tomorrow

but of course, the next day
they were gone, to never return
leaving but a premonition
of all the things waiting to be missed


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