Sunday Jul 14

Tigue Poetry Lindsay Tigue is the author of System of Ghosts, winner of the 2015 Iowa Poetry Prize and forthcoming from the University of Iowa Press in 2016.  She writes poetry and fiction and her work appears in Prairie SchoonerBlackbirdRattlediode, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among other journals. She was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has received a James Merrill fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University and is a current PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Georgia. For the 2015 to 2016 academic year, she will serve as assistant to the editors at the Georgia Review. Originally from Michigan, she now lives in Athens, Georgia.

Abandoned Places

The house on sinking Holland Island—
an old Victorian, shingles-crumbling,

the isle’s last structure falling into
the Chesapeake Bay.
Before it collapsed in 2010,
one couple rowed out there.
I click through their photos—
the house’s interior full of dusty

bottles, broken furniture. Their shots
of gulls in flight. A rusty tub. Their GPS

to guide them. They walked through
the island’s old cemetery, from its days

as village, where watermen lived
and dredged oysters in the bay.
The land has been sinking
for thousands of years. The water

rising ever more quickly. In
2003, hurricane waves rushed

through the kitchen. This place
of silt and clay knows how

to disappear. In 1995, one man
bought the island and wanted

to save it himself. The experts said
he never had a chance. He tried

building breakwaters out of wood.
He put down hundreds of sandbags,
lined large rocks against the shoreline.
Before it fell, that house appeared

to sit directly on the waves. The man
gave up the island after he turned

eighty, underwent chemotherapy.
The couple’s photos online show

his favorite grown-over headstone,
a girl’s grave that reads: Forget me not

is all I ask.

How to Measure the Weight of Snow

You will need:
         a ruler
         a shovel
         a bucket
         a scale.
You will need snow.

In the winter of 1866,
the Chinese railroaders
for the Central Pacific
built tunnels under snow
to keep laying track.
Entire crews trapped
under tons, left
until spring melt found them.
Picks and shovels in their hands.

I used to wait for a school bus
on top of a plow drift
taller than me, slush-grayed
and calcified.

I used to wonder how much
snow weighed, lying inside
hand-packed igloos in my yard.

Measure your bucket.
Measure the top surface
of snow where it’s flat.
Carve out a square foot
from the earth.
Place snow in your bucket
and weigh
before melting.

After the snow-load roof collapse
of the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue,
birds were injured, frozen solid.

I listen to the silent buildup
of snow on my peaked roof
until I can’t hear it anymore.
Only the slow scraping
of a shovel clears the way outside.

As the birds melted, they tried
to open their mouths, their eyes.