Donald Junkins Red Point Journal: Swan’s Island, Summer 2001

This spring, the passing of our former poetry editor Donald Junkins saddened the NDQ community. Junkins was a poet, educator, and editor both for the Quarterly and the Massachusetts Review. In recognition of his contributions to NDQ and his work, we thought we’d republish a collection of his poems from NDQ 70.2 (Spring 2003).

“Red Point Journal: Swan’s Island, Summer 2001” is a series of sixteen poems that interlace the landscape of Swan’s Island in Maine with personal reflections. The glare of the sun, the smell of summer rain, and the coastal fogs frame the interplay of the past and present in Junkins’s seaside reveries. We will publish the poems on the dates included in their titles inviting readers to back to Junkins’s vision of Swan’s Island 20 years later. 

ISLAND BIRDS: JULY 2

Early morning after the rain, the range
of blues and greens retains the dark night’s
rainbow dream. Black cormorants in flight
from nowhere hurry singly by, and the strange

vibrato of crows lifts from the woods. I
remember little of the night except a fragment
of the long playing childhood dream, a long lost tent
opening beside a river, then closing, as if a great eye

blinked, and birches swaying in the sun
in full yellow Nod, that land of early summer play,
the way it recapitulates itself here in the early light of day
while diamond water sparkles blindingly East beneath the sun

and a lone lobster boat negotiates into the blazing light
and disappears. Yet the lingering engine hums
until the wind in the trees is the only sound, then
the crows again, nearer, slightly frenzied, still out of sight.

~

To read more about Donald Junkins see his obituaries in the Boston Globe and at UMass-Amherst.

As you likely know, these days are particularly challenging for many cultural institutions, publishers, and little magazines. So even if NDQ doesn’t float your boat, If you can, consider buying a book from a small presssubscribing to a literary journal (like our UNP stablemate, Hotel Amerika), or otherwise supporting the arts.

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