Accabonac, Shinnecock, Peconic, Napeague,
the creek, the bay, the stream, the Sound, the sounds
of consonants, hard C’s and K’s. Atlantic,
the ocean’s surge, the clicks of waves
collapsed on rocks in corrugated waters,
the crowd circling a stranded whale
sent by the god Moshup to beach at Paumanok.
The Montauks left us names. Their successors,
Millers and Bennetts, whose names are carved
on local gravestones, rode rough tides,
strung trawl lines for cod, and even on Sundays,
parked vans by the sea and gazed in fear
until commercial hauls replaced their boats.
Surfmen gave names to streets that bag the tourists,
who prize their charm. I hear old sailors rage,
in many languages, against cold winds,
the light now clear, now haze: Pharoahs and Mulfords,
whalers (names unknown), hurl throaty curses
that rise with the sound of waves and with the cries
of an ice-colored gull plucking scallops in shallows.
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