Barbara Cully is the author of Desire Reclining (Penguin, 2003), The New Intimacy
(Penguin, 1997), which won the National Poetry Series Open Competition, and
Shoreline Series (Kore Press, 1997). She has received fellowships from the Arizona
Commission on the Arts and has been Writer-in-Residence for the YMCA Writer's
Voice. She has taught at the Prague Summer Writers' Program and currently
teaches in the Department of English at the University of Arizona.
Excerpts from Shoreline Series
That was the day I combed my hair straight back in order to see my jaw against the shoreline changing. (Nothing I could look at before without a cache of fear.) The wind storms combined, you said, with the rain and the decision to grant land to a few citizens. When a family of eight is at the mercy of the elements, high ground is measured by the ability to remain humble, to give up everything without a whimper. In the colonia next to the sea, we noticed a signature of stones in the stair; the mark of a man who walks behind a child who walks. This far in Baja is a frontier. When the woman named Susana fell in the road, fourteen Americanos sprang up to donate. On her way to the hospital: the several mustard fields she passed, noting the wind, the stacks of blue cobbles lined up to be replaced, the taller children silent against the mud banks. Well into dusk, someone's (noteworthy) father traces the coastal highway miles in black shoes.
At sunset when we are empty completely, we are prepared to watch the disappearing. This is an important point. First you dream about living alongside the cut grass of a fairway just miles from an international border along the last frontier of virgin coast. Next you hear a woman singing, a muted voice in the interior distance bathed in light. She looks into you, into your interior, and you see that her face is the face of betrayal, sensuality, murder, suicide, and war. At that time, let your breathing become slow while your pulse also becomes slow. You'll hear the scripted song of the leading man and suffer his anguish. You'll hear the distant waves crashing against your hands on the desk next to the phone. We are able to suffer when another suffers, able to feel elation when another is victorious.
The zinnias at the edge of her cottage bear the imprint of your heel the night you broke her and entered her. It isn't the way you always are. Often your head is regal in your sleep. Often all you want is a horse or a car. And you want all the lights at the edge of the view to belong to you. And you want to profit from the resale value of the moon. She is afraid because she has fucked you: "I am afraid because sexual expression is a strange night out at the movies, because with you in my mouth sexual expression is a basic need that cannot be ignored." In your absence your rape scenes give way to a working man frustrated by his inability to connect with a phone-sex partner; getting off in a masturbatory three-way with the couple living in the apartment across the street from his own. Slow kisses on the eyelids of the sea, now that you are dangerous, now that you are gone.
The deeply forked tail of the swallow; any of various birds similar to the swallow, as a swift. A man's black coat worn for formal daytime occasions, having a tail, long, rounded and swift. Any of several vines having clusters of small purplish flowers (from the shape of its pod). To ingest something unpleasant, reluctantly. To refrain from expressing. To take back, react, or gulp. An amount swallowed at one time. A backward flow of water as from the action of oars or the ocean's tide retreating. In a reverse manner or order; the backward flow of air as from the propeller of an airplane in the aftermath of an event. Water held or pushed back by, or as if by, a dam or a current, especially in a wooded, uncultivated or thinly settled area. The salted and smoked meat from the back and sides of a pig. The presence of bacteria in the blood. A place or situation containing the inherent capacity for play or disruptive influence. A body of water thus formed.
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