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. 


The brush pile on the ledges before our cove
grows higher day by day, as I clear last autumn’s
leveled spruce before the coming summer rain.
It looms as background to high grass before the heavy

morning fog. Even as the hidden sun arcs
higher in its morning burn, the sea remains
opaque, as if a sheet of gray has dropped behind
the quiet birches and the sleepless poplar coins. Dark

shadows in the shoreline spruce paint chiaroscuro
depths above the line where further islands yesterday
defined perspective in a different way,
with miles between, then nothing above and everything below

the surface of the Gulf of Maine. Now the first line
of random lobster buoys dots gray water as the fog
recedes, and overhead the first blue openings appear. Only time
remains before the idea of the sea is clear, even unto Spain.


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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