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Devon Miller-Duggan

A Flatlander Explains Her State

Beach at St. Malo by Maurice Prendergast

Nothing here breaks open, thrusts upward.
At 19 she saw, three nights running,
in the fault between waking and sleep
her father’s face blown open by a gun,
true seeing.
Her father’s face was never opened by a gun.
But there are beaches
where the own-able land ends,
where everything shifts, beautiful because
waves break and slide there.
Her uncle shot himself in Florida.
She still sees
dark room (office), window, louvered blinds, streetlight,
one palm, the gun.
Waves don’t belong to Delaware,
but as always to the ocean rolling them
back and forth across its skin.
The gun always in his hand.
Folly that she still tells him to lay it down.
Coastal, below sea-level most of it,
doomed as oceans rise and warm,
full of wet basements, long sight-lines,
themselves full of breath or drowning.
Once, she and the uncle walked back roads for hours
talking in the late November light
among harvest-smelling fields.
Talk made black-scratch drawings against wide-fielded skies.


About the writer:
Devon Miller-Duggan has published poems in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, Christianity and Literature, Gargoyle. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Delaware. Her books include Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books, 2008), Neither Prayer, Nor Bird (Finishing Line Press, 2013), Alphabet Year, (Wipf & Stock, 2017).

Image: Beach at St. Malo by Maurice Prendergast (1858-1924). Watercolor, gouache, oil and crayon on paper. 13.8 x 19.9 inches. 1907. Public domain.

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