On the Beach at Lackan Bay

by Thomas Rabbitt

She wondered as she drank that the cold sea
Didn’t taste like sweat or tears. Who was Christ
The King that he didn’t need one like Breege
To test his cup for him? Who was so chaste
Her tongue hadn’t tasted her saviour’s skin
Or felt his flesh crawling in the wet grit?
She knelt at the sea’s edge. Washed by the foam,
She thought she heard the voice of her lost lover
Caught in the gull’s wail. Poor Breege was mistaken.
Breege was disturbed. Angels whispered, Come, come
To grief, lie here and taste the living water.
They said he was lovesick. She understood
Their whispering. Poor faithless Breege whose lover
Has walked into the sea. Who was so good …

The author of several books of poems—including Exile (1975), The Booth Interstate (1981), The Abandoned Country (1988), Enemies of the State  (2000), and Prepositional Heaven (2001) — Thomas Rabbitt has retired from his teaching career and currently lives and writes in Tennessee.  In 1972, he founded the MFA program in creative writing at The University of Alabama.  In Fall 2004 NewSouth Books will release American Wake: New & Selected Poems.

selected by Dan Albergotti