Rockport, ME


At the laundromat the whir of machines,
whorled & busy, the pleasure & difficulty

of stillness     Waiting, sockless, I aspire to be
the cross-legged woman reading a magazine,

settled into her corner of time     I like her gray braid,
the way her skin sings of long days, the tattoo of a flower

I can’t name     I’d been talking to someone about rushing,
or, not rushing     Not-rushing     We were trying

to push back against that feeling
of the next thing, the next thing, in life    

We were trying to slow ourselves down & I
was getting better     What’s that John Prine line?

What are you gonna do with time / after you’ve bought the farm?    
I started pretending I’d already bought the farm    

On the farm there were poppies loping over grasses
& long blue light & fireflies cavorting at night

I make banana bread with overly-ripe bananas,
stir the flour slowly with a wooden spoon,

when it’s done cut the sugar with a cashew,
sort detritus from a party for the moon

On a walk, the water’s dark teal & cold-looking
but there are boys in shorts thinking nothing of their skin

& that sailboat couldn’t care less about wind
inching around the harbor like a toy in a bathtub

as if to say, Today, the ocean doesn’t exist
The sun’s getting lower in the sky & by the time

I’ve made it to my favorite loop, the water looks like cotton candy,
the light’s cut a line through the trees, the tops of them glowing

brilliantly, one tall & bright as a lighthouse                                            
for birds I can’t name (though I aspire to),                 

except for the osprey with its soft screech,
whose gray-speckled body swoops beyond the trees,

above the goldenrod & the rosehips & the Joe-Pye weed,
which has always struck me as the flower-equivalent of owls,

& the crusty lupines & pines & Queen Anne’s lace,
& on the way back in the darkening I pick up my pace

along the dirt road that cuts down to the water
spinning through the trunks of trees, now less

cotton candy, more faint pink, clearer & touched
with a minnow-colored sheen, like the color of a crush

& something about a sunset at the end of summer makes me want
to eat it all up, so I run, instead, breathing hard, into the dusk



Hannah Jansen’s writing has appeared in The Letters Page, Maine Women, The Literary Review, Tin House Online, and elsewhere, and her work has been supported by Monson Arts and the Vermont Studio Center. In 2023, she was a semifinalist for a Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship in fiction. She is at work on her first book. She lives in Rockport, Maine.


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