Clair Dunlap grew up just outside Seattle, Washington, and started writing at the age of six. She is the author of In the Plum Dark Belly (Beard Poetry 2016). Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Occulum, Hobart, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Noble / Gas Quarterly, Souvenir, and more. She currently lives in the Midwest and answers questions in an academic library.
by Clair Dunlap
The Beyond (1972)
after Georgia O’Keeffe
in the real memory we are nowhere near dusk and
everyone is elbow-deep in soft dark sand,
fingers tunneling after spitting clams,
bent under the bleached wood, backs burning,
the summer blue mountain looking on.
the dream of it that i fall asleep to, though,
is the sky the blue of every body of water i've ever known
and the water black as midwestern night
as if every home i have is just one place
and from this place, i can call midnight up north the same word as
lake washington against our naked stomachs,
or the brown pond that, when held,
is periwinkle, rippling under the turtle’s throat,
i can call the black here the same word as blue
instead of grisly snow packed thick with forgotten spring.
with my eyelids closed tight as the clam’s mouth
we each hold the same good thing.