The Last Good Dream

by Rhett Iseman Trull

Dusk and the two of us again
on the porch swing, idling down
the day. The low sun burning out

but still with us, its full glow
like the lull between seasons
or the soft pearl of the oyster.

It is the moment when doves
light on dormant phone lines and boys
find love in fish nets and crab cages,

in the salty chorus of the wharf. We
can almost hear them, six blocks east,
the lobstermen bringing in the catch

and their daughters in braids telling secrets,
a cloister of curls and intentions, waiting
for fathers whose bones smell of fish

to carry them home. By habit
our arms touch as we listen to the cadence
of the first evening rain tapping to the west

near the cemetery and the eight-stool pub.
A girl coasts her bike down the street,
bells on her handlebars ringing. It is the hour

before women wash dishes
and men go out, before the gulls flock
toward Captain’s Calabash, the shore’s single light

for miles. And we give
with unthinned hearts, little knowing
how even if banked by the best words

and buoyed by honesty, love can fail.
Or maybe we do know
and unharbor ourselves anyway.

RHETT ISEMAN TRULL’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2008, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and other publications. Her awards include prizes from the Academy of American Poets and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation. She received her B.A. from Duke University and her M.F.A from UNC Greensboro, where she was a Randall Jarrell fellow. She and her husband publish Cave Wall in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her manuscript The Real Warnings was selected by contest judge Sheryl St. Germain as winner of the 2008 Anhinga Prize for Poetry.