lighthouse-and-buildings-portland-head-cape-elizabeth-maine-1927.jpg!Large
fall break
Maine
by Jonathan Chan

at dusk the eyes begin to glaze, hemmed in by
the dense shroud of an unlit highway, no glimmer
in the mirrors left, right, or rear, faltering in the
stubborn stream of light and the passing flit of
strip after strip, brilliant flash of orange and red
fading in the last high beam of an endless road,
across the signs of stolen presence announcing

Bangor, Belfast, and Brighton, every leaf and rock,
each rising tide leaving only dregs of foam announcing
this form, processual and inchoate, seen at the cusp
of daybreak, a single mom-and-pop for miles and
miles, the tip of a lighthouse announcing a fortitude
closest to old worlds, and a riding back on the winds,
hands over metal bars stapled into stoic rock, hands

over each crag, photographs making known the
touristry of conquest, expanse of mountain and
forest held in ocular weight, the breath of something
old, something new, exhalations of awe so many
times over before the streaming from a beehive, or
another trail, where the land’s bones are never out
of joint and its heart is never frigid like wax.

PAINTING: Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine by Edward Hopper (1927).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In October 2021, while in graduate school, several of my friends and I decided to take a road trip from New Haven, Connecticut, up to Acadia National Park in Maine. The colours of fall were just beginning to descend upon New England and we shared the desire to behold the grand swathes of orange, red, and yellow along the highways and from the peaks of mountains. None of us had been to Acadia and we relished the opportunity to pass through Massachusetts and New Hampshire on our way up. The trip up involved the longest continuous periods I’d ever had to drive and pay attention to the road. I remember noticing the names of the smaller towns in Maine with some curiosity, each reflecting the name of somewhere else in the United Kingdom. The poem begins with our time on the road, moves through our time in Portland and Penobscot, and culminates with the grandeur we witnessed at Acadia. The trip provided a distinctive and singular memory, a time of wonder and relief from the pressures of school, one that I continue to hold close when I think back to my time as a graduate student.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Chan is a writer and editor of poems and essays. Born in New York to a Malaysian father and South Korean mother, he was raised in Singapore and educated at Cambridge and Yale Universities. He is the author of the poetry collection going home (Landmark, 2022). He has recently been moved by the work of Kevin Young, R. F. Kuang, and Alfian Sa’at. More of his writing can be found at jonbcy@wordpress.com and on Instagram at @fivefoundings.