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M A Y   1 9 9 9

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by Mark Jarman

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Also by Mark Jarman:
Psalm (1997)

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They beat the edge
    Of the dawn light,
        The pearly pre-glow

Right at their heels,
    The three boys
        Carrying the fourth

Rolled in a sheet.
    They all had taken
        Something the night

Before in a beach
    House and this one
        Drowned in his sleep.

They acted quickly,
    These instinctive
        Athletes who cross

The faces of tons
    Of crushing water
        Which refrain

From curling over
    And burying them
        Alive because they

Are nimble, quick,
    Tuned to the wit
        Of their survivors'

Bodies. They hurried
    From the running car
        And laid their friend

Like a Sunday paper
    On his parents' doorstep,
        And drove off to

The place where the sharp
    New light would comb through
        The wave crests and they

Would ride below them,
    Dodging the onrush.

Mark Jarman teaches English literature program at Vanderbilt University. His most recent collection of poems, Questions for Ecclesiastes (1997), was awarded the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in 1998.

Copyright © 1999 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; May 1999; In the Tube; Volume 283, No. 5; page 100.

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