Poet Laureate’s News

Iris Dunkle“To the Fog” by Terry Lucas

by Iris Jamahl Dunkle
reprinted from Poets Corner #17, Press Democrat

In Sonoma County, the fog is a constant. When we wake up, a grey gauze often blurs our view of the world and on hot summer days we assume the blanket of fog will roll off the coast to naturally cool us off. A world muted by fog, though, is a special place where everything you see seems different than it had been before. The light hangs. Objects stand out somehow becoming more vibrant. Many poets including W.H. Auden and Carl Sandberg have written about the altered universe of a world shrouded in fog; however, more recently, in his poem, “To the Fog,” Terry Lucas records the fog specific to Sonoma and Marin counties. The poem is written in the second person, a trick that sharpens its immediacy and brings the reader into the action of the poem. At its heart, “To the Fog” is a praise poem. A meditation on the “heaven” fog makes when it covers everything that is familiar with its blur and density. Exploring this heaven becomes the action of the poem. A daily walk is altered when the fog has lowered its curtain. The sun looks like the moon and each step reveals a tiny universe of visibility. In Lucas’s poem, each moment appears to the reader suddenly, as if she too is walking in the fog: the “geometry/ of downed limbs scratching at low tide” and “the snowy egret” that suddenly takes to flight. Reality, in the form of commute traffic, warms up like an orchestra that is out of sight. And, for the moment of this poem, the speaker stays present in his natural environment. Lucas ends the poem with a direct plea to the fog, asking it to “hover in the hollows of this day” as a way for us to remember to stay present, to embrace the life that is directly in front of us. In these busy days, let us all wonder at the beauty and strangeness that we have right in front of us.


To the Fog

by Terry Lucas

And then you wake up one morning to the fog
surrounding your house like a heaven,
like the first time you drank a whole bottle
of white wine alone. You get dressed for your walk
down the path that you walk on each day.
You look to the horizon, the shouting
sun now more like moon’s soft song. One muted tone
behind sky’s veil. You notice the lichen-
covered stones greeting each step, the geometry
of downed limbs scratching at low tide,
the snowy egret you surprise, plumed head
turned on its side, sweeping the mudflats, improvising
a way to catch breakfast in this suffused light—
all of this and more, normally hidden in plain sight.
But an orchestra’s warming up behind the curtain:
commuters leaning on shrill horns, distant
sirens rising, the engines of this world
revving up their clear intent to perform
something short of a miracle. O fog
of morning, hover in the hollows of this day,
remain in its low places, to rise up again
when we need not more, but less.

From Dharma Rain, St. Julian Press, 2016


Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s new poetry collection, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air, is now available at: www.irisjamahldunkle.com. Also now available in audio book:


Archives of previous Poet Laureate columns may be found here for 2012,  2013, 2014,  2015 and 2016-2017.

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