August 2007

Gregory Byrd


Gregory Byrd, a native of the Florida Keys, is a fair carpenter and knows how to cast a mullet net. His work has appeared in such journals as Poet Lore, MacGuffin and Tampa Review (which nominated him for a Pushcart Prize). He has degrees from FSU and UNC-Greensboro and teaches at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, Florida.

In Old Man and the Sea, Santiago says that sunset
is a difficult time for fish and for men
and so he does not pull hard on the line
connecting him to the marlin swimming
a hundred fathoms down in the darkness.
And, yes, dusk is a difficult time for men, too,
when the world takes a breath
between what it means to be one thing and the next,
like the breath Billie Holiday takes between notes,
the moment that is neither one note
nor the other, nor silence but the intake
of breath that makes our hearts rest for that moment.
When I run along the bay at dusk,
I run over bridges and see the grey silhouettes
of the men fishing down below, their lighters
near their faces like small blooms,
them looking out to sea as a tide comes through the bridge.
Ahead of me, a woman walking a dog solidifies
out of the almost darkness and when I call,
she reins in her retriever. The moon rises and brightens,
a bulb growing brighter the longer it burns.
Stars begin to burn, too, and open like birds
or wake. It is easier to see when the sun is gone,
when darkness is darkness or when daylight is daylight.
Except for way out at sea on a moonless night
when you can't see your hand. Or for days that blind.
I open all the windows as the West turns orange
and play Adagio for Strings
as the sky and the earth and moving things
take a breath, a necessary pause.



Gregory Byrd: Poetry
Copyright ©2007 The Cortland Review Issue 36The Cortland Review