[This year is the 20th anniversary of Cape Cod Light by Michael Hattersley. The other parts of this series are here.]
After he retired from Harvard to Provincetown, Michael got involved in town affairs, helping manage the community theater company, going to town meetings, running friend’s campaigns for selectman. It was a far cry from his days in New York City and Cambridge, but it’s where he wanted to be.
The twenty-eighth poem in Cape Cod Light is In Sight of It. It’s an ode to Provincetown springs, about the vacillations in the transition from the winter to summer, and about the cadence of small town life.
Lots of Provincetown characters make appearances here: his friends Robert and Ron, a local indigent, the town Moderator, and the first summer tourists, bringing the Key West party back north, surprised by the cold Atlantic water.
In Sight of It
It’s a gray dawn, and the future is filled with meetings
Where we have to pay close attention and can’t smoke.
Provincetown sleeps all around in its early spring potential
Though you can feel the bulbs plumping in the ground
And old Popeye is back out in the streets gathering his cans.
There’s no spring here;
For a couple of months it’s either summer or winter.
Robert and Ron will remember the Memorial Day
When it almost snowed as we were spilling out of the bars.
Yesterday I took my shirt off in the garden,
Today it’s a cold drizzle. One thing about meetings,
They get you out of the house in a drizzle.
You can stand up not knowing the consequences of what you will say.
Unexpected allies or opponents emerge.
People even change their minds or vote against their interests
And a shudder runs through the sand from Commercial Street to Race Point;
An entire community has been changed by wastewater management.
It’s early enough so we still really welcome the summer people
And shift our complexions like chameleons. We enjoy watching them
Shivering in swimsuits and ordering generous rounds.
At last year’s Town Meeting
A poet read a three page Ode to Affordable Housing
And our Moderator allowed as it was relevant to the discussion.
Things begin to feel like their happening in a Provincetown April.
The next poem is here.