Returning
by Adam Tavel

Because they are not made
for nursing home nightstands or mothballed attics

I stand on Assateague Island chucking
your mother’s shells back to the Atlantic

like the boy who twists a thin branch and breaks it,
desperate to glue its splintered bark with sap.

Lifeguard whistling from his throne, water
puckering over conchs bigger than catcher’s mitts,

I pitch by the half-dozen now,
a sharp edge slicing my finger on the final hurl.

My hand stings in sea-salt;
waves lap the rolled cuff of my shorts.

What would she say of this rushed mess
if she had breath, her memories drifting into sand?

And later, when I scour our glove box for band-aids
I try to ignore the pale girl bowed in distant foam,

shells washing back
like so many miracles at her feet.




                         ________________________


Adam Tavel’s poetry has appeared in Ariel, Perigee, and Poet Lore,
among others.  He teaches English at Wor-Wic Community College
and serves as the poetry editor of
Conte, an online journal of narrative
writing.  Currently he is an MFA candidate at Vermont College.


On “Returning”:
Since “Returning” grew out of a real personal experience (I actually
heaved those shells), my main impulse was to write a simple, organic
elegy free of emotional and rhetorical clutter.  At a certain point it
took the form of unrhymed free-verse couplets, which helped guide
the speaker’s rhythm, pacing, and sense of futility.  Despite several
revisions, the final image remained the same; it seemed to strike the
perfect balance between action and reaction, power and powerless-
ness that I wanted to achieve, and ultimately unified the rest of the
poem.  


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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Literature
 

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 1
(Spring 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Apple
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.

www.applevalleyreview.com