[This year is the 20th anniversary of Cape Cod Light by Michael Hattersley. The other parts of this series are here.]
After graduating from Yale in 1976, Michael taught English for 6 years at Muhlenberg College in Eastern Pennsylvania, about an hour north of his undergraduate alma mater, Swarthmore. In the Muhlenberg yearbook the students said of the English department “Hattersley: original, challenging, and much more.”
In 1979 he founded the Valley Arts Council, becoming a “town and gown” bridge and cultivating the arts in the Lehigh Valley area (I think it still exists).
Michael aways always a teacher. After leaving Muhlenberg he spent two years in New York City working in business communications before ending up in Cambridge, MA teaching at Harvard Business School.
Michael was always a poet. I suspect Parkway, the thirteenth poem in Cape Cod Light, is one of the oldest poems in the collection. Quite the opposite of the previous poem, is a straightforward idyll, probably written in his Muhlenberg days, about a rainy day on the Little Lehigh Creek.
On wet wings; the earnest birds
Brake, settle, fold themselves
Into the water. Floating limbs
Bump the margin of fat leaves.
Someone has planted these steps
Down to the Little Lehigh River.
The depression that built these parks
Bloomed in the slow care
Stone was shaped to stone.
Old fishermen keep their eyes
On the ripples. Young ones
Smoke by poles propped on the bank.
The river carves out an island:
Bent pine, syringa, forked grass.
People gather. Some vanish
Into the woods. Squirrels scatter.
The voices of the children
Have been driven away by this rain.
The cloudy light at nightfall
And the sound of friends
Coming back from the storm
Mingle at the island’s end
As a bat flaps slowly
Out of the window.
The next poem is here.