It's probably no surprise that most booksellers are also writers themselves. We're very proud of our very own Jody Hetherington, who just was named a winner in the 2009 Maine Literary Awards, sponsored by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. You can see her superb poem, winner in the Individual Awards for Unpublished Work Poetry category, below. Jody also received an Honorable Mention for her fiction, "House of Words", in the Individual Awards for Unpublished Work Fiction category. Go Jody! It's only a matter of time before we're hosting her as a featured reader and published author at RiverRun!
First, find a boat. It helps
to have a dream of water still
lapping in your ears and the salt
of regret in your eyes. Stay
within thought of the ocean, and listen.
The murmur of remembered drift will lead you
to a hollow shell that has shipped
a load of golden leaves in someone’s
backyard, its prow pointing toward the woodpile,
its shrinking sides gone dry
in the motionless land of dread, there
beside the axe. Or you might find it
disguised as a hutch or a hill, inverted
above a spilled cargo of cobwebs
and a raccoon’s nest, the stroke
of air over its keel merely an echo
of a hope of floating. This is the chance
you have been given.
Wrest it from its fossil bed and enter
negotiations. These are many, long before
you have learned to steer: the relief
or resistance of unrightful owners. Time.
Equations of distance from the constant of water.
Rock-spiked paths. Eithers and oars. Your chance
would follow you if it could, straining
against its earthy mooring there at the end
of it hawser. Do not wait
for the rescue of rain, the would-be hero’s infinite
illusion. Hint: boat trailers and sheer tugging.
Follow the long-vanished tide.
Withhold your trust. The siren sea speaks in tongues,
lapping up the shore, its myriad whisper
as close now as warmth to frostbite.
Your task: to fill the dry silences
between the ribs of your vessel
before the water does. Ropes of caulk
twining into cracks, new wood brash enough
to span the splintering gaps, the stubborn refuse
of wax—these are your tools.
Varnish, for all its resinous assertion,
is only an afterthought. Your beforehand plans
are as manageable as the tide. Improvise.
Wax and plane. Cryptic but true, the water will tell you
when you are ready, when what’s out yearns
to be in and what’s in never diminishes.
You thought you could choose your moment,
but the moment chooses you. The patience of the tide
trumps whatever you have learned about waiting.
Yes, there are shoals of gray clouds stealing
the horizon, out where the planes of sea and sky
recede infinitely into each other, and the wind
is kicking up tarantellas of doubt around your ankles.
These hesitations are nothing, dissolving in the salt sting
that has swollen the wood of your boat
with anticipation, in the ocean of now that is all
there is. The merest push sends your craft grating
from sand into susurrus; your last leap tumbles you
wet-footed into the hollow made to hold you.
Thread the oars through the waiting locks. Begin to row
into the vivid wind, looking back at all
your weathered choices rooted on the shore. Now
learn to steer, feathering one paddle through the briny resist,
turning into the beyond behind you. Either oar.
— © Copyright 2009 by Jody Hetherington
We are your friendly neighborhood bookstore, located in downtown Portsmouth, NH. Small but potent, we offer a fine selection of new books with an emphasis on fiction, history, poetry and mystery. We also have a great little kids section, and hold over 100 events a year.