peg nemeth | two by

4 11 2007


Poetry Dispatch No.139 | December 14, 2006

TWO by Peg Nemeth

Peg was one of our local poets-in-residence at one time, living in a house & studio with a heart-stopping view of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, opening into the bay. It would be difficult to imagine a more perfect setting for a poet, nourishing one’s craft, one’s sense of self and soul with that ever open invitation of water out there demanding poetic attention.

She’s moved on to warmer climes down South at this point. But she’s left us all with a marvelous view of what it means to live up here surrounded by water, and how it still speaks to us summer and winter, telling us what we need to know and remember. Norbert Blei


Things To Hang Onto In The Winter by Peg Nemeth

I can make a decent cup of coffee
with the aid of a good bean
and the electric grinder.
Wrapping my fingers around
my favorite mug I think of summer
and drinking French roast on the pier
where mallards meet each morning
to snooze under their wings in the sun.
At night I still copy them, my own
head tucked beneath a pillow.

Our mailbox has been roped together
ever since a county plow sheared it
straight off its post and yesterday
the people renting next door
got stuck in their driveway for the third time
this week. When we went to help
with shovels and sand they told us
they were heading back to Georgia.

The old timers are parked at Willie’s
again, probably watching reruns
of Mr. Ed and drinking manhattans.
The Friday night specials in summer
are a plate of frog legs or fried perch.

Everyone talks baseball
and Willie shows his batting form
with an autographed Pete Rose Louisville
Slugger he keeps behind the bar.

I think about July, the trumpet vine
blaring from the pump house,
morning glories bursting through
the fence like pieces of sky. We’re
in the hammock swinging with a slow
evening motion, one eye open
for satellites (last year’s record was
eleven in one night) listening to a bell
buoy’s toll in the shipping lane.

Now the sun has migrated south.
Late afternoons the ice catches fire
as if someone lit the kerosene
on the world’s largest fish boil.
When my feet begin to slide
off the roundness of the world
I take another sip of brew
and watch the bay spill over
from Menominee into Potawatomi Park.


Thousand Footer by Peg Nemeth

Even through the blizzard we can spot her,
anchored off the quarry—longer than three
football fields, taller than St. Joe’s—her bridge
and deck lights bright as if a town had busted
through the ice when we weren’t looking.

We pull on all those clothes you need up here
in winter and wade through drifts to the beach.
Knee deep in snow we shout our speculations.
Walloped by wind they rush back to us for safe harbor.

The pulse of propellers thunders through the dark
and she begins to move. Like some boreal
queen escorted by her retinue of tugs, she follows
an ice breaker through the shipping lane.

Drivers pull their cars to the side of the road.
Headlights unroll a frozen welcome of long
white carpets over the bay. People at home, in bars
and restaurants, abandon recliners, TVs and beer.

They turn on marine radios, crowd around
windows, adjust binoculars, move from room
to room for a better view. Some pile their
children into cars and head for the shipyard.

Everyone leans toward something huge
and powerful. They hear a call this frigid night
sounding from one hundred fathoms down.

from CHASING THE LIGHT, Isis Press, 2000



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