Island Fever
by Edward Byrne

Far from home, my son sleeps
        off his fever, bedspread kicked

free and knotted at his knees.  
        For more than four hours, I have

listened to his labored breathing,
        a repeated wheeze kept as steady

as the sloughing of surf foam
        we have seen slip down shallow

slopes of the beach bordering
        along this inlet’s curving shore,

knowing how often, looking
        through his bedroom window,

I would watch a bright moon
        shed its light over that meadow

spread out across the county
        road from our house, dividing

nighttime into black and white
        as those large irregular shadows

of old oaks closer by fan out,
        form dark islands along the lawn,

places I imagine only the bravest
        among us aren’t ever afraid to enter.

by Edward Byrne

On their wedding anniversary in the year
        following Mother’s death, my father and I

sailed.  We’d boarded an old charter boat
        for a brief fishing trip to some of the farther

islands off the jagged southern coastline.
        One morning, off the port side, we’d seen

the first frenzy of fish swim by, darting
        like dozens of shooting stars under the sea’s

surface, its deep green stippled with spots
        of sunlight seeping between parted clouds

and shaped by waves tracing our ship’s
        wake, marking the darker ocean with sprays

of ivory florets designed almost like tiny
        eyelets that once decorated lacework trim

on the bedspread my father remembered
        made by my mother while he was yet away

at war, patterns looped with white thread
        during the few months before their marriage.


Edward Byrne is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently
Tidal Air (Pecan Grove Press).  A sixth collection, Seeded Light, is
forthcoming.  His poetry has also appeared in numerous anthologies
and journals such as
American Literary Review, American Poetry
, American Scholar, Ascent, Black Warrior Review,
Carolina Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review,
Greensboro Review, The Literary Review, Mid-American Review,
Missouri Review, North American Review, Quarterly West,
Southern Humanities Review, and Southern Poetry Review.  Byrne
is a professor of American literature and creative writing, and he directs
the visiting writers program in the English Department at Valparaiso
University, where he also serves as the editor of
Valparaiso Poetry
.  More information is available on his home page or weblog.

On “Island Fever” and “Southern Islands”:    
These two poems are among a number of recent works I have
written concerning father-son relationships, including the book-
length diptych “Tidal Air,” presenting perspectives from both the
father and the son.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 1
(Spring 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

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