Peter Makuck grew up in Connecticut and graduated from St. Francis College in Maine where he studied French and English.
After teaching French for several years, he returned to graduate school for a doctorate in American literature and was later a Fulbright lecturer in France. His Long Lens: New & Selected Poems will be released by BOA Editions, Ltd. in April 2010. He has also published two collections of short stories, Breaking and Entering and Costly Habits; the latter was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award, also listed by The Dictionary of Literary Biography in the “Top Ten Story Collections of 2002.” Founder and editor of Tar River Poetry from 1978 to 2006, he is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at East Carolina University. His poems and stories, essays and reviews have appeared in The Georgia Review, The Hudson Review, Poetry, The Sewanee Review, The North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Nation, and so on.
Walking through maritime forest,
he tops the ridge dune, beach empty,
ocean blue as the ink of her last letter,
that perfect nun-schooled cursive,
this last aunt, gone with family
stories he should have listened
more closely to. Afternoon shadows
thicken in the white sandy hollows,
sea oats at his back and far out
a sharp line that divides two worlds.
He is thinking of a Polish uncle escaped
from Nazis when, as if sent by a deity,
appears a woman in a blue wetsuit.
She drags a red kayak out through the wash,
hops in, and paddles out
to the eight footers that
tip her over and send her back
boiling in a white seethe to the sand.
At last she finds her feet, staggers
and retrieves the kayak. Again
she launches out and again goes upside-
down in the loud pound of the surf zone.
All this emptiness but for sandpipers
that suddenly rise, as if with one will,
twist and head in a new direction,
then swirl down a hundred yards east.
When he looks back
the red kayak is beyond the breakers
in a field of sun sparks pointed west, slowly
appearing and disappearing far from shore.