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The Charity Houses of Cape Cod
A Poem by Amy Nawrocki
from the collection Reconnaissance by Amy Nawrocki
This is what Thoreau called those rickety and shingled bungalows
that braced the wind-swept dune sands with the kind of poise given to
the most humble of structures, when wooden planks know
they are no match for the tyranny and heartlessness
of sea storms. When he walked along the Cape Cod shoreline,
Thoreau’s mapmaker feet followed the path his mind sought between
the Nauset Plains and Highland Light, the urge to become
a little more salted seeping into his skin. In these small shacks
he found company, even when no other souls were about—comfort
from a lonely stretch of steady, barren beach. Shelter, whatever
form it takes—whether the lucky shade of the high cumulus,
or the calm, temporary sedation of low tide, or even a sloped roof
suspended with the architecture of nails
and grooved logs over a dry, simple place—shelter
gives respite of the sort that clams know pausing in the sand
before the gulls with their appetite and spite return to feed.
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Amy Nawrocki is a Connecticut native, raised in Newtown and now living in Hamden. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Arkansas. She has received numerous honors for her poetry, including awards from the Litchfield Review Poetry Contest, the Codhill Chapbook Competition, The Loft Anthology, Phi Kappa Phi, New Millennium Writings, and the Connecticut Poetry Society. She is the author of five poetry collections: Potato Eaters, Nomad’s End, Lune de Miel, Four Blue Eggs and Reconnaissance. She teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Bridgeport and is mother to two cats, Maple and Django.