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Poetry: From the November/December 2012 issue | See all poetry



Pilgrim, memory and sea are boundless

In a tenth-floor suite,
with my slicked hair and beard
and blazer cut right,
not even my third glass of gin
can stall the folded knit
that recalls camp.

And rolling free from bag
and tent into the chilly dawn
recalls the green shade
of a banker’s lamp,
the books that looked back,
and bleary eyes wanting sleep.

Fuzzy from gin
and the memories now
spreading wide in squares and decks,
I step out
into the moist evening air,
the moon limning
anniversary, injury, laughter, degree—

It is distance, then
that makes this life ambitious—

And it will be the moon
I think
that recalls you
when I’ve trekked the cold steppes,
dined with a countess, and
after many years
landed back in some patch of grasses:

then the small inlet of blood
that wells within these borders
and this grown beard

will be pulled shoreward
like a proper tide,

and flashes dot the night.

- Joseph Spece

Joseph Spece has earned fellowships from the Poetry Foundation and the MacDowell Colony, and is a graduate of Columbia University. His first book of poems, Roads, is forthcoming in March.