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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.

1 poem

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.

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