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 BIRCH LEAVES: JULY 8

Black seaweed laced with yellow drapes
the boulders disappearing in the tide,
and island roses overflow the deck,
their yellow centers candy to the bees that check
each one by one. Pink blossoms ride
the wind, calming between gusts, and gape
again at the afternoon sun, as if July
could multiply the yellow summer days
of late middle age, Eden cast adrift for good,
the dead reckoning stare through the invisible hood
of days to come, as if July might simply stay.
The yellow on the birch leaves is the other story.
They sway and ruffle in the ocean breeze.
Come fall they’ll droop, ready for the winter freeze.

~

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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