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  • Reyn Kinzey


The Tides at Gloucester is a pivotal poem for me. It marks the moment that I realized, city person as I remain, it’s the world of river, light, and open water that is my real home.

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, a small city, but not without its pretenses. I have always lived within walking distance of downtown, and I feel comfortable with concrete under my feet. Outside of Richmond, I probably feel most comfortable in Manhattan and Dublin, although in Dublin, I always stay within site of the Liffey: “river run, past Eve and Adam.”

As some of the earlier poems noted, as I grew older, I transitioned from rugby to kayaking. That was necessary; I was racking up concussions at an alarming rate. But I didn’t expect a transition from one pastime to the next to bring a spiritual change. So I was taken up unawares.

I am and will always remain Catholic, and I hope I’m orthodox enough, but if you’ve been reading my poems, you realize by now that my religious impulse is pantheistic at its core. The Church tells me to see the face of God in my fellow man, but the Church tells me a lot of difficult things. It’s much easier for me to see the face of God in river and tree, rock and light, and finally the water of the open sea. It’s probably an Irish thing.

So, much as I love the city, I’ve somewhat renounced the measured time of Richmond for the less predicable tides of Gloucester, where wind and rain work subtle changes. The rewards are the moments in and out of time, when the deer hunter’s stand is empty, and the mind floats free through the marsh.

But I’ll pay a price, I know, when I’m swept up into the full tide of the open sea. Not ashes to ashes but ashes to water.

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