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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

The End of the Line

The temperature is high, the pollen is present, and graduation is just around the corner. However, with the arrival of springtime blossoms comes the departure of most of our staff. Interns Nicole, Maura, Amanda, Julie and Mike are all graduating, and Candide is retiring from Assistant Director. And while I feel inclined to use the cliché that we are all moving onto “bigger and better things,” it’s pretty hard to compete with working at the Press.

When emotions are too high and hard to put into words, sometimes you need to borrow others’ words. And that is one of the things poetry is best at. So here is my departing poem, attempting to encapsulate my four enriching years at the Press, and my very much undetermined future.

“The End of the Line”

Your entry, Last name, First name, should be here
at a point beyond the one where you set out,
convinced of a purposeful journey, though
assuming its title uncertain and the subject too big
to pin down. Which leaves a name, and even that
open to inference and a thousand prior claims.

One of which could even be your own. So, see
where it gets you, with time on your hands
and a fancy for tripping on what you might have done.
Take it as read. There’s a regiment of enlisted facts
that goes on and on without you, although you
never really joined and have yet to be called up.

But a space exists where everything that might have been
can still be summoned up and slotted in,
so even a syllable might be enough to catch
you out, or your name be a commonplace
where books you never thought to write abound
and where, you find, that The History of Syphilis

was the issue of your hand, or that, despite yourself,
you’d done a job on Paraguayan Folk Dance
or Aubergines for All. So much for memory.
So much for your input. All those hours
of clock-watching and far-fetched plans
that somehow stretched beyond days

you never stopped counting and a plot that never came
to very much. But might have been wrapped up
in a couple lines that say it all, or headings
that run you to earth in the full stop that comes
hard on the last word for you. Another dead end.
Go back. Re-enter the sequence of your derring-do

downriver, where your (as yet) unharnessed life
begs to be a category of its own, slipped in between
America and a miracle, between a haiku and a hairdo
or, better yet, betwixt an undine and undying love.
Home. You’ve gone as far as you care to go
in that direction. Nothing comes of it. Call up instead

a moment when a scroll of ersatz ancestors,
rattling their corsetry and canes, is filing
past the newborn to authenticate the claim.
Except the cradle’s empty and, instead
of your own legend, the words declare,
Your entry, Last name, First name, should be here.

Vona Groarke, from Flight and Earlier Poems

Posted by Maura Connolly


Categories: Interns, Irish Poetry, Irish Women's Poetry, Poem of the Week, Poetry, Vona Groarke, WFU PressTags: ,

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