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D E C E M B E R   1 9 9 4

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LONG POINT LIGHT

by Mark Doty


audioear picture Hear Mark Doty read this poem (in RealAudio).

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by Mark Doty:
The Embrace (1997)
A Display of Mackerel (1995)


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Long Point's apparitional
  this warm spring morning,
    the strand a blur of sandy light,

and the square white
  of the lighthouse--separated from us
    by the bay's ultramarine

as if it were nowhere
  we could ever go--gleams
    like a tower's ghost, hazing

into the rinsed blue of March,
  our last outpost in the huge
    indetermination of sea.

It seems cheerful enough,
  in the strengthening sunlight,
    fixed point accompanying our walk

along the shore. Sometimes I think
  it's the where-we-will-be,
    only not yet, like some visible outcropping

of the afterlife. In the dark
  its deeper invitations emerge:
    green witness at night's end,

flickering margin of horizon,
  marker of safety and limit.
    But limitless, the way it calls us,

and where it seems to want us
  to come. And so I invite it
    into the poem, to speak,

and the lighthouse says:
  Here is the world you asked for,
    gorgeous and opportune,

here is nine o'clock, harbor-wide,
  and a glinting code: promise and warning.
    The morning's the size of heaven.

What will you do with it?


Mark Doty is a Guggenheim fellow. His 1993 collection, My Alexandria, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry.

Copyright © 1994 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; December 1994; Long Point Light; Volume 274, No. 6; page 70.

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