Stepping Across the Bay

[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:

Michael and Bret DuBack on the upper balcony at Miller Hill

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.

Michael on the beach in his youth

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.

2 thoughts on “Stepping Across the Bay

  1. Bret DuBack

    My Brother, My Mentor, my best friend… Even thought we lived totally different paths in life we were brothers till the end ! I thank him for doing justice to my minds eye and helping me infinity with my life’s path to be me and become a better human be-ing in all it’s glory. I being straight and Michael gay it never ever became an issue between us just one of the best loving friend- Ships I ever encountered. This new day and age that is thrust upon us with all the sounds of separatism is not acceptable. Love is the key to a future of all human being just be-ing. It is after all a WE world not a me world. I Love and miss you my brother, my friend , my mentor on how to be stronger and still live love ! ” Even though I still struggle with that” May the light of the universe forever shine in our hearts. The only reason I wrote about being gay or straight is for all who know mw and those who don’t , just wan
    t to say Love is Love…

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