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Alibi for Two pays homage to life and love in the long winter nights of the North Woods, where “the new moon is laced/Across its white face/With the winter willows” and a wood stove is a treasured gift, “flaming frost/From the walls of my windy house” and kindling more than the yellow birch. With a unique blend of poetry and prose, Augustus Merrill shows us the starkness and grandeur of this wilderness and the changes in emotional landscape that are brought on almost as changes of season — “Through lily pads, cattails, green poplin sky” and with ice that blows in across the lake from Canada across the lake — bringing us to understand that the soul of the land has come to reside within the poet himself.
Augustus Lee Merrill is retired from a thirty-year career as professor of English literature at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. He has been involved in the conservation issues of the Lake Superior region as a member of the boards of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute and Voyageurs National Park. His writing has appeared in College English, Poetry Now, The Wisconsin Academy Review, and Gray’s Sporting Journal. Merrill lives with his wife Melinda in Washburn, Wisconsin.
Alibi for Two is available for purchase through Parallel Press for $10.00. Discounts are provided for libraries, booksellers, and non-profit organizations.
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The dock was built with trepidation. Not by someone joyfully launching out from land, but by someone afraid of water, reluctant and trembling on the shore. It went out only a few feet into the lake and the ice had shoved up one side, tilting it almost out of use. Little was gained by going out on it, and the hazard was great. It was rotten, slippery and sloping. Nail heads protruded everywhere. But sometimes in the rain when the fog set in on the lake, it was a great comfort to go to the end and to think about going farther.
Fog settles on the night like sleep on a brilliant child,
Louise is warm at last.
Palmetto forgotten, she sleeps in a field of red mallards
Springing always outwards
Through lily pads, cattails, green poplin sky.
Melinda is praying, kneeling sideways,
Whispering into the maple sheets.
New child now, the ghost of the Florida wife gone
I lumber certainly to the dock
Past the second wife, the first child, the latest dog
Out into the rain, the cold lake,
My third self.