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When You Ask Again

by Miriam O’Neal

From the dunes Penikese
seems to drift on the horizon.
Its dot of barracks empty,
barns and sheepfold shut.

Beach-plums by the bath-house drop.
Split in rippling heat. Collapse.
The island hasn’t seen a sheep
or a thief in a century.

Squaring our hands, we frame the view.
I am the woman you shouldn’t marry.
Two egrets dip at fish in the estuary’s trickle.
The tide will not turn for hours.


Miriam O’Neal lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts. She has published poems and/or reviews of poetry in Southern Poetry Review, Louisiana Literature, and Visions International, among others. Work is due out this spring in The Onset Review. She is the founder of Off the Shelf, a poetry reading series for public libraries. (1999)


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