[This year is the 20th anniversary of Cape Cod Light by Michael Hattersley. The other parts of this series are here.]
Michael loved Cape Cod, and shortly after my mother and brothers moved into his Brookline apartment he and David Harkins finished their house at the top of Miller Hill in Provincetown and he began spending weekends there. After retiring, he moved there full time, becoming a “year-rounder” (the population is highly seasonal). The view from his first floor deck is pictured above; the views from the top floor bedroom balconies are the best on the Cape, bar none:
Provincetown is a gay mecca, an art colony, and an old Portuguese fishing village. Michael loved all of its characters (in every sense) and became a central figure in the art scene, hosting festivals and helping run the amateur theater company in town.
Provincetown is known for its beaches, and one of the amazing attractions is the breakwater that runs from “P-town” to nearby Wood End and Long Point, the end of Cape Cod. During low tide, you can walk along it or upon it all the way across. It’s an arduous mile, and you have to watch every step lest you slip or twist your ankle, but worth the trip.
The third poem in Cape Cod Light is about a walk across Cape Cod Bay to Truro, the return home to Miller Hill, and about the youthful experiences that made him fall in love with Provincetown in the first place. I suspect it’s a metaphorical journey, a mix of the breakwater walk and an imaginary journey into the past.
It’s also about the Cape’s ghosts—the memories of the terrible loss and devastation gay men that lived through the 80’s and 90’s carry.
Stepping Across The Bay
Today I walked across the water from Provincetown to Truro.
Sinking wasn’t a problem, it was
Making sure I got all the colors right, skipping
Over the cracks and respecting with my feet
The lines between pale green and white, deep blue and seaweed purple.
When I got to Truro, nuzzling the beach, I met
All the old friends who used to live there in the seventies.
We did great drugs, and cooked, and laid on the lawn.
Only a handful of these people will be alive
When I take a boat back, and climb to the top of the hill.
The next poem is here.