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March: “Kent House”

A poem for March

After a picture by Jamie Wyeth

After arriving on Monhegan Island in spring 1906, Rockwell Kent bought a lot on Horn’s Hill overlooking the village and began to build himself a house, which he finished sufficiently to move into that fall. In summer 1907 his mother, Sarah, came out to Monhegan with the rest of the family—all of whom fell in love with the island. The following year, Kent built a house for her.

– Brandywine River Museum of Art

Late winter days break up these shoals, sea’s crumbled portal

Of rock.

These seed-husks of rain’s ritual,

Cracked and split, spill down sky’s

Cloud-battle to find rest before the blue-weathered door

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Of Sunday’s locked house...

For all of them, or for a part of all of them, the Kent House

Stands as she (eternally she, mothering the sea) is door

To shadows, piled hard and sharp, on this wave-high rock;

Her Cape Cod dowry of gables serves as wind’s portal—

She who will rest secure in the stoniness of a lonely March sky;

Her muttering gutters echo winter’s last gasp. A yearly ritual

Of Sundays, now past land, Rockwell’s dream house waves him on.

All the shoreline was a prison for Kent, rapping her door

In a cold, uneasy sleep; all winter’s night long she would rock

The cradle of ocean’s grey desolation to impart all

Her matronly slope of roof, her bosomy porch, blue with sky,

Anticipating the Ides, signal day of ritual

When Rockwell comes at last, resuscitates the house

And Sunday goes by, Mars sinking lower into evening’s sea.

When Rockwell observes his Kent amid the repetition of rock—

The mother of us all. “And I stand, at birth’s portal,”

Rockwell jests, “’Tis Spring!” Above him, an aquamarine sky

Already floods her pent-up rooms. The old ritual

Of removing white slipcovers like cobwebs around the house

Kicks up evidence of mice and summer’s hibernating odor.

This Sunday, before bed, perhaps Rockwell banks a fire with less ash.

The sea throws the last of its icy catch up the beach, the sky

Begins to shed its skin, and as the shoals show off their rich jewel,

An heirloom freshly coated with caretaker’s spit, they unhouse

The scenery’s barnacled, monotonous march: her door

Has waited all winter to yawn at sun’s warmth unlocked from rock.

Changing bed sheets, Rockwell is born again through each room’s portal.

Sun, day, mind and sea all rest as Kent House makes peace with March.

Joseph O'Brien

Joseph O’Brien is the poetry editor for the San Diego Reader.

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After a picture by Jamie Wyeth

After arriving on Monhegan Island in spring 1906, Rockwell Kent bought a lot on Horn’s Hill overlooking the village and began to build himself a house, which he finished sufficiently to move into that fall. In summer 1907 his mother, Sarah, came out to Monhegan with the rest of the family—all of whom fell in love with the island. The following year, Kent built a house for her.

– Brandywine River Museum of Art

Late winter days break up these shoals, sea’s crumbled portal

Of rock.

These seed-husks of rain’s ritual,

Cracked and split, spill down sky’s

Cloud-battle to find rest before the blue-weathered door

Sponsored
Sponsored

Of Sunday’s locked house...

For all of them, or for a part of all of them, the Kent House

Stands as she (eternally she, mothering the sea) is door

To shadows, piled hard and sharp, on this wave-high rock;

Her Cape Cod dowry of gables serves as wind’s portal—

She who will rest secure in the stoniness of a lonely March sky;

Her muttering gutters echo winter’s last gasp. A yearly ritual

Of Sundays, now past land, Rockwell’s dream house waves him on.

All the shoreline was a prison for Kent, rapping her door

In a cold, uneasy sleep; all winter’s night long she would rock

The cradle of ocean’s grey desolation to impart all

Her matronly slope of roof, her bosomy porch, blue with sky,

Anticipating the Ides, signal day of ritual

When Rockwell comes at last, resuscitates the house

And Sunday goes by, Mars sinking lower into evening’s sea.

When Rockwell observes his Kent amid the repetition of rock—

The mother of us all. “And I stand, at birth’s portal,”

Rockwell jests, “’Tis Spring!” Above him, an aquamarine sky

Already floods her pent-up rooms. The old ritual

Of removing white slipcovers like cobwebs around the house

Kicks up evidence of mice and summer’s hibernating odor.

This Sunday, before bed, perhaps Rockwell banks a fire with less ash.

The sea throws the last of its icy catch up the beach, the sky

Begins to shed its skin, and as the shoals show off their rich jewel,

An heirloom freshly coated with caretaker’s spit, they unhouse

The scenery’s barnacled, monotonous march: her door

Has waited all winter to yawn at sun’s warmth unlocked from rock.

Changing bed sheets, Rockwell is born again through each room’s portal.

Sun, day, mind and sea all rest as Kent House makes peace with March.

Joseph O'Brien

Joseph O’Brien is the poetry editor for the San Diego Reader.

Sponsored
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