Plain China


by Drew Dean · Susquehanna University · Honorable Mention in Poetry
Hanging Moons, Mary-Catherine White · Virginia Commonwealth University

The birch crescent passes the sea’s fingertip

into Belfast Bay,

an eddy of pitch pine and flotsam.


The dip and dive calls for snowdrifts,

the mangled gulley choked yearly from

stuffing brush and purple daggers.


Three birches swaying, three birches ebbing

they stand to the east and darken in the west

upon sail, and on a good day, they will break

against seaweed matted boulders.


Within this crux, the land is ruled by tide.


Time is taken by the sea

a day and the next is given by the swell,

hours in the shimmering arc on waves,

minutes by the passing true triangles of ships,

and seconds as the whipping leaves of crab apple trees.


A shore of stone,

of muck and splayed tendrils

from the devil’s head,

the discarded clumps

that seem as masses of dead spiders.


The ones that floated away on the ends on dandelions

when the tide failed them, gentle and calm.


During ever colder nights the moon haloes,

staining a row of crests silver, from

ocean mouth to river head and back again,


the silhouettes of birches mark the current,

and fireflies dot the outline of this scar,

against wanderers and stragglers crossing through pines,


the fishermen try to claim with discarded catches,

captains of four-mast yachts burden the foreground,

and every Webb, Vanderbilt, and Rockefeller

could rob the shore.


I will climb and sit between the birches

and tell that this is my coast and it is beautiful for me.

About the Author

Drew Dean · Susquehanna University

Senior Drew Dean studies poetry. A native of Vermont, he seeks to show the significance and beauty of New England that he has witnessed throughout his life. “Penobscot” first appeared in Susquehanna University’s fiction and poetry magazine, RiverCraft.

About the Artist

Mary-Catherine White · Virginia Commonwealth University

Mary-Catherine White, an illustrator and concept artist, recently graduated from VCU with a BFA in communication arts. She enjoys fantasy, myth, and all things that glow in the dark. Her work, Hanging Moons, first appeared in Poictesme, VCU’s literary arts journal.