Peter Meinke

close up photo of brown conches
Photo by Karthik Maran on

The Shells of Bermuda by Peter Meinke

First the wind through the window   lifting
this room with breath   tugging the curtains   waking
the flowers  turning one by one slowly
the pages of old books   Then the sun
through the windows glinting in corners
warming the tops of tables   The cicadas’
shrill vibrations   the woodpecker’s percussion
even the high whine of Mrs. Rheinhold
as she scolds her children: “Pamela!   Paul!”
All necessary   but the window most of all

There are moments in every day
when a hunger seizes and the hands
tremble and a wall turns transparent
or a cup speaks   Suddenly
bright as the shells of Bermuda
the combs for your long hair blaze on the desk

From The Contracted World: New & More Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006) Reprinted with permission by the author.

Peter Meinke was the first Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg, and now is Poet Laureate of Florida. He has eight books in the Pitt Poetry Series, the latest being Lucky Bones (2014). He’s published two books of short stories, The Piano Tuner, which received the 1986 Flannery O’Connor Award; and The Expert Witness (2015). A collection of his essays, “To Start With, Feel Fortunate’” received the 2017 William Meredith Award. Other awards include a Fulbright professorship, 2 NEA Fellowships, 3 prizes from the Poetry Society of America, and many others. He and his wife, the artist Jeanne Clark Meinke, have lived in St. Petersburg for over fifty years. His most recent book, illustrated by Jeanne, is Tasting Like Gravity (U. of Tampa Press, 2018).