Literary Hook: ‘At Cana Cove’ and my first published poem, ‘Dear Massage Therapist’

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

I will be teaching the Process of Writing at The Clearing in Door County, Wisconsin. This poem, written nearly 20 years ago, is set in Door County in May. Many people from this area enjoy vacationing in Door County for its natural vistas and quiet experiences. Here is a poem celebrating a treasure of Door County and the revelation it led to.

Cana Cove is on the east side of Door County, and is the site of the Cana Island Lighthouse, something really worth experiencing. Yet, many of the best experiences are of the “nontourist” variety.

At Cana Cove
—Door Country, Wisconsin

Today the May sun surprises
like a long-distance phone call
from a friend gone too long,
and all day the lady fingers
of Lake Michigan massage the rocks.
mergansers ride the waves
off Cana Island Lighthouse,
that bright white beacon beckoning
me back year after year.
at dusk I walked the cove again,
a private ritual of silence sliced
by a gull’s cry,
and lullaby of lapping waves.
A fox came
jogging along road shoulders,
Stopping beneath a pine
its ears perk up, its fur glistening
in the Nordic moon rising
from that softest pink horizon
we connoisseurs of dusk
know is strictly Door.
Then a buck
drinking from the lake, his hooves
a shadow on precarious rocks,
So vulnerable. So bold.

First published in The Tenderness of Memory, Plainview Press, Austin, Texas, 1995. Republished in Wisconsin Poets Calendar 2009.

My first published poem

More and more people are flocking to the healing professions, both for healing and for employment. There are many schools and certifications for various alternative healing practices, often seen in The Rock River Times. Many years ago, I thought about becoming a massage therapist, but then realized what I really wanted was a massage!

Here is a poem written 25 years ago. When I showed it to my massage therapist, he suggested I send it to the former American Massage Journal. I did, and it was my first published poem. I hope you enjoy it.

Dear Massage Therapist

You have turned
my toes to velvet mushrooms,
my arches to cotton,
the balls of my feet to Indian drums,
my heels to onyx,
my ankles to pigeon feet,
my calves to oranges,
the back of my knees to creeks,
my thighs to bread dough,
my lumbar to stars,
my spine to piano keys,
my shoulder blades to foothills,
my shoulders to satin ribbon,
the crimp of my neck to root,
my neck to stem,
my head to dandelion,
my hair to fluff,
scattered in the eucalyptus wind.

Christine Swanberg has published about 300 poems in 70 journals and anthologies. An interview with her appears in the 2008 Poet’s Market. She is available for mentoring through Jane’s Stories Foundation. Part of her mentoring is suggesting possible journals. She teaches writing at The Clearing in Door County, Wisconsin, and gives workshops and readings thoughout the United States.

From the May 19-25, 2010 issue

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