by Lauren Wolk

When Deirdre Grace Callanan writes a poem, she invokes the senses the way summer does: by tempting us. We want to taste, touch, hear, smell, and see the world as she presents it, through a lens that distills beauty into truth. The physical sensations she evokes in her poetry open the door to the metaphysical, the understanding of what’s at the root of all that beauty, the awareness of what’s waiting in its bloom: layers and turns that make for depth and complexity, darkness and light. For all of those reasons, her poetry deserves to be read. More importantly, it deserves to be experienced. Like summer does.

Deirdre Grace Callanan is an author, freelance journalist, and editor. For 30 years, she taught English and photography first in Tidewater, Virginia, next in Washington D.C., and then for the Dennis-Yarmouth district. For 15 years, she co-led a Cape & Islands poetry celebration for K-12 poets. As a Christa McAuliffe Fellow, she traveled the state working with teachers as writers, ultimately publishing a classroom text, “Windows & Mirrors.” Bass River Press, an imprint of The Cultural Center of Cape Cod, awarded her its 2018 Poetry Prize for her collection, “Water~Dreaming.” This year, Paper Plane Consulting published “Fish Camp: North Jetty Tales,” her history of a Casey Key, Florida, landmark. Deirdre is currently at work on a series of meditative essays about beach plums.

Picking Beach Plums with Virginia Woolf

They harvested in silence
in the civil twilight,

lifted bowed branches
(scarred bark, lichen).

He held the bucket beneath the clusters,
she plucked the berries.

Chatham Light strobed a gull
which slipped south– a pin above Monomoy.

If he’d asked what she believed,
for that moment, she could have said.

Their broken lives lay down
in the dune, taken.   

—Deirdre Grace Callanan

Toile de Jouy

When the seals poked
their indigo snouts from the Atlantic, 

her father steadied the Leica,
his shadow stenciled on linen sand,         

shot first their sad eyes,
then her on the beach, serious. 

Winters, they read by the stove,
the photos lined above them

accrued like so many stitches,
black on white. 

Each July, they searched the surf
until horse-like heads

popped up,
bobbed on silk swells,

their faces jet beads,
gleaming.

In time, she did what he’d asked,
the sky that night velvet

as she rowed out
beyond the tattered waves, 

his looseness a silver thread
in a bolt of cloth

the seals unwound as they
followed in its trail.    

—Deirdre Grace Callanan

Leave a Reply