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The Post and Courier Prize

Libby Swope Wiersema

Haunting Pawleys Island: List

Haunting Pawley's Island

Try not to think about discontent.
Rather, think about the woman in the blue bandana
walking the sands, head lifted like a queen
smiling as the receding tide unfurls a foamy carpet at her feet.

Or the seagull dipping, over and over,
head-first into the nascent waves
like a silvery needle stitch—sure
of its ability to snag a wriggling prize.

The peppering of salt and spray
upon your skin delivers the sting of envy—
the crab, the tern, the beachcomber—
they seem so damn at home here!

But so, too, a Gray Man who walks these shores by night
crying out for lost love and coastal calm,
his high-wind warning a sign to uproot, to clear out
the weathered houses of this island, of your head.

You squint against the sun-shot waters, mindful
that, you, too, are a wanderer, that you come from a place
without light, that a richer way of living cries out from
    cast-off curls
of whelk and cockle that rise like apparitions from Pawley’s
    legend shore.

Each time you scoop the sand, you hold the history of this
    place in your hands
where it clings like a hitcher, absorbing your most recent news,
then disembarking, grain by grain, a little more of your
    story engraved there,
filled with yearnings and warnings, gray as ghosts.

Haunting Pawleys Island: Text
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