Betsy Sholl

POETRY-January + February 2010
Poem by Betsy Sholl from Late Psalm, University of Wisconsin Press, 2004
Edited by Christopher Seid
Artwork by Christopher David Ryan


“Last Boat”

We were waiting for the ferry,
lolling on the lowest ramp, on floats,
shifty with wave slush, dip and sway.

We were sun-seared, sapped, soaking in
the latticework, wooden scaffolding,
stacks of lobster traps, pilings stained black

from creosote and tar, green with seaweed
combed out on receding waves, swirled back
by water’s slap and curl: levels and lengths

of working docks, creaky planks, crossbars
of tacked asbestos for stopping the slip
on slick days—the whole wet rush,

the gleaming run-down fertile place.
We were sitting on a dock of the bay,
watching how matter melts into

quivery silks of light, a brilliant seethe,
a glittery tease of there
and not there, such dazzling manna.

We were squinting through shadows
at little flamelike fish flickering
among weeds—a whole world it seemed

flaring under the ramshackle,
barnacled, rock-bottom dock, all flow
and flown, and we were resting in

the brevity, the breve, breviary,
the never-ending not-me: waiting
for the ferry, wishing it wouldn’t come.


Betsy Sholl is the author of seven books, including Rough Cradle (Alice James Books, 2009). Since March 2006, Sholl has served as Maine’s Poet Laureate. She lives in Portland and teaches at the University of Southern Maine and in the MFA program of Vermont College. “For me, poems come from that magnetic field between the inner and outer world, what birders call ‘the abrupt edge,’ that rich space where field and forest meet. Something external I see, hear, or otherwise experience will trigger an internal response—and language gets stirred up.”

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