For the Finder of My Days

by Jonathan Johnson

You named the Opel “Blueberry”
and we drove her deep into winding twilight.
The descent was longer than I’d expected.
The sea when it finally showed, black
between the lowest of many steep hills,
was like the bottom of the sea.
I tell you this now because you were three.
We parked on the beach. A few other cars.
Wooden boats hulled over on the sand.
Spanish village in the night behind us.
I thought I’d found, if not my life,
my life’s aftermath. A few lights from
where the bay curved away fell apart
in the water. Blanched with miles of sleep,
a drowsy brightness in your mother’s arms,
you charmed us the biggest room from the young
woman keeping the empty inn of the moon.
In the morning from the rooftop terrace we saw
the world had risen again, umber, dusty green
and terra cotta down to the blue Opel
and sand. The sand on which I’d watch you search—
blue hat, red bucket—for shells and sticks
and the smoothest rocks that now, ten years on,
were the strewn doubloons of my lost history.

Jonathan Johnson has published two books of poetry, Mastodon, 80% Complete and In the Land We Imagined Ourselves (both with Carnegie Mellon University Press), and the memoir, Hannah and the Mountain (University of Nebraska Press). His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, been read on NPR’s Writers Almanac, and appeared recently or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Missouri Review, Witness, New Ohio Review, Poetry Northwest and other magazines. Johnson migrates between his hometown of Marquette in upper Michigan, his ancestral village of Glenelg in Scotland, and the Inland Northwest, where he is a professor teaching in the MFA program at Eastern Washington University.

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