Barrier Islands

by Scott Owens

Three stories up on a rail at the south end
of Hatteras, I watch ferries come and go
taking their cargo of vacationers, one-day
diners, to more remote Ocracoke,
twenty miles of beach, sand, mosquitoes,
building up to a hotel-studded Silver Lake,
artificial harbor said to be Edward Teach’s
final hideaway before hanging, seabirds
and high tiders the only permanent residents.

On the other side, the ocean seems
to flow north, Gulf stream current
bringing enough warm water in which to swim,
double sandbar making it clearer
than I’ve ever seen this far north.
Sport fishermen cruise up and down
this coastline all day, hauling in
cobia, mackerel, drum. At night
I see their lights, singular in a sea
of darkness, sometimes hear voices
pitched just right to pierce
the constant roll of surf.

None of us leave much of a mark
on islands known to be temporary
themselves, migrating west,
shaped and reshaped by blue-green
waters of the Atlantic, patrolled
by timeless squads of gull
and tern, grackle and skimmer.
Footprints are washed or blown away
by nightfall, words drowned in wind
and waves, everything else
consumed by time or sea.

Graduate of the UNCG MFA program, co-editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, and author of “Musings,” a weekly poetry column in Outlook, Scott Owens is the 2008 Visiting Writer at Catawba Valley Community College. His first full-length collection of poetry, The Fractured World, was published in August by Main Street Rag. He is also the author of two chapbooks–The Persistence of Faith (1993), from Sandstone Press, and Deceptively Like a Sound (Dead Mule, 2008). A third chapbook, The Book of Days, will be published by Dead Mule in January. Scott Owens’ poems have appeared in Georgia Review, North American Review, Poetry East, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cimarron Review, Greensboro Review, Chattahoochee Review, Cream City Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Cottonwood, among others. Born in Greenwood, SC, he now lives in Hickory, NC, where he teaches and coordinates the Poetry Hickory reading series.

Back to Issue One: Fall 2008