By unspoken accord, at Newcomb Hollow
We always turn to the left
And head past the outliers
To where the last tide leaves the beach sand-swept.
For forty years, our eyes scanned the narrow
Lines of weed and driftwood
As we walked, heads bent,
One hand cupped over a palm-sized clam
To hold the egg cases, moon-snail collars,
Sand dollars, whelks, and urchins; we’d sift
Back at the blanket.
One astounding year I found a sea star.
When did I last find a sand dollar?
The beach is scoured smooth and bare. To quest
Today for skeletons is futile.
We look ahead, at dunes, into the sea
Where, as we walk, an offshore shadow follows,
Then rears with a breath-catching lift
The fat black apostrophe of a seal’s head–
As if the ocean raised a curious eyebrow.
On the tide-smoothed vellum
straggles a pen trial of kelp.
Here is a seagull’s faint runic track
and here a dog has galloped a looping cursive.
Across the stave traced
by the ranger’s truck
coming and going
the surf inscribes
its percussive part.
Lisa Berglund received her PhD from the University of Virginia. She is Professor and Chair of the English Department at Buffalo State College, where she teaches eighteenth-century literature, the history of the printed book, Shakespeare, and lexicography. Lisa has served as Executive Director of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (2017–2021) and of the Dictionary Society of North America (2007–2013). Her family has visited Wellfleet, Massachusetts annually since 1968.