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Never not liquid its deep blues
map an alter-Atlantic, an unseen idea

of bay as unlike the actual
body of water as water is like a body.

When the teacher pulled down
her scrolled-up map of the world, no one

mistook its blue wash for land or the pale
yellows and greens—our own state

pink—for the sea. By six we’d learned
oceans are blue, though we knew

in our bodies (we lived by the bay)
the ocean’s surface sheen is closer to silver

than sky and inside the waves the water
roils with browns and muddled greens.

A dizzy pummeling otherworld.
This painted bay might be a sea undizzied:

a translation of a translation of turbulence.
Five thousand miles of wind and unbounded

main arrested and framed as a square—
something the size of something

knowable, even known. Except The Bay isn’t
the bay. It barely references the sea.

Its effect is its subject, more like the lulling
roll of waves out beyond the surf,

your body afloat, loose, looking up,
calm in the vastness, dreaming. The bay

is disappearing inward: wash by wash
nine Liquitex blues override

the visible to sound the depths of the felt.



Jennifer Atkinson is the author of five previous collections. The poem in this issue is from A Gray Realm the Ocean, winner of the Poets Out Loud Prize and forthcoming from Fordham University Press.




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