"Maria and Oceanus" by Erin Coughlin Hollowell

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November 12, 2021 

Maria and Oceanus

Erin Coughlin Hollowell

1. Mare Crisium

battery of wind   |   car sliding toward the
ditch   |   phantom in the left hemisphere   |   blood
down wrong   |   an erase   |   drumbeat   |  rip along
the seam   |   drumbeat   |    landslide and shatter   |   oh
drumbeat   |   how you became ashes when we
weren’t there   |   silence   |   silence   |  silence   |   silence   ||

 

2. Mare Nubium

Turn west toward granite chop and shut
your eyes. Think of what you desire. Spread
your arms to manifest four humors in the arc. Clouds

will form in the shape of a precipice woman stone
eagle. You will be torn. You will be called
a fumbler. Clouds will form in the shape of a

child wren hand boat. You will be lofted.
You will be called a savior. Clouds form.
You open your arms. Rain at last lets down.

 

3. Mare Tranquillitatis

All our stories sputtered
out. Waves
the only language
left. Empty wine bottle

nestled against
a driftwood bulwark.
Blue hour after
the sun, before dark,

and you kept
pushing your hair
out of your eyes
so you could watch

light forget
the mountains.

 

4. Mare Cognitum

Maybe afterward we know.
In this living there is no space

for recognition. I’d hang a ribbon
above the water. I’d be a book.

Finder’s fee to anyone who can
point out the route. Here. After.

 

5. Oceanus Procellarum

Once, electricity crawled through my arm and raised
a blister on each fingertip.  Once, I choked on a stone.
Air pushing against barrier. Once, a car struck and I
kept traveling. Glass fragments in my hair and a broken

wing. I’ve never been good at this, saying which thump
bruised and which thump distorted. I wanted with
the whole structure I built as my being. Pulled myself
out of a life and into another. Low pressure rolling in

along my spine and settling. I want to open up now
and let it all out. Go ahead, make up a story of how
I was cold and unapproachable. Most shining when
closest but still bringing out the wind, bringing out the storm.

Copyright © 2021 by Erin Coughlin Hollowell. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 12, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“This poem was sparked by a detailed painting of the moon by artist Carla Klinker Cope and the sudden passing of my good friend, Sherry Simpson. Looking at Carla’s painting, I began to wonder at the names of the seas on the moon, each so evocative: Mare Crisium, Sea of Crises; Mare Nubium, Sea of Clouds; Mare Tranquillitatis, Sea of Tranquility; Mare Cognitum, Sea that has Become Known; and Oceanus Procellarum, Ocean of Storms. The moon is marked by various impacts just as a life is marked. The long nights of Alaska winters make of the moon a friend.”
Erin Coughlin Hollowell

Erin Coughlin Hollowell is the author of several books, including Corvus and Crater, forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2023, and Every Atom (Boreal Books, 2018). The winner of an Alaska Literary Arts Award, among other honors, she serves as the Executive Director of Storyknife Writers Retreat and the Director of the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. She lives in Homer, Alaska, on the land of Niqnalchint Qayeh Kenu. 


 
Every Atom
(Boreal Books, 2018)

“The Picnic by the Ocean” by Grace Cavalieri
read more

“Morning Voices” by Ed Falco
read more

Thanks to Kimberly Blaeser, author of Copper Yearning (Holy Cow! Press, 2019), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about Blaeser’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year
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