M

turnagain arm

by Rose Hunter

in front of the tree
line raze and polar

owl mountain face
tipped with
arctic feathers
tear gush carved

like your
lies, so much grey

where can i
confess this:

i thought
for sure they doctor
those postcards

Rose Hunter is the author of three poetry books. Her next book, glass, will be released by Five Islands Press (Australia), later this year. Journals she has been published in include the Los Angeles Review, Cordite, Australian Poetry Journal, Southerly, Mascara, and DIAGRAM. She is from Australia originally, and is now in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. More information about her is available at “Whoever Brought Me Here Will Have To Take Me Home.”

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “turnagain arm”?

For those who don’t know, Turnagain Arm is a major waterway off the Cook Inlet in Alaska, which you have to go around in order to drive from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula. I made that drive several times in 2015 and was amazed by the awesome beauty of the place, with one ‘postcard’ view after the other. Having seen pictures of this sort of landscape before, but never having seen it in person, it all seemed a little unreal. And of course the name, ‘Turnagain Arm,’ struck me as fantastic — so suggestive. I made a mental note to use it as a title for something.

Later, I was doing some final edits on a book of poetry (what is final, ever, but still) — a large part of which contains poems inspired by this Alaska trip. I thought, I can’t believe I never used that title for anything! I felt unhappy about that. Then I remembered a poem I’d cut, it was actually ‘about/set in’ the town of Seward, to the south, but I suspected it had some parts that could equally apply to Turnagain Arm, as a place, and as a title. The ‘Seward poem’ was quite long, and I’d cut it because it had too many weak points that I couldn’t seem to fix. I found it again and pulled out the lines I liked best, which were basically these lines, and saw that they worked better in shorter lines (rather than the longer ones I had them in originally). I attached the title ‘turnagain arm’ and liked it – it seemed to emphasize the idea of intrusion, geographically and in other ways, as well as the twist, like a knife in the back.

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