Hearth and chimneys remained
when the remote cottages succumbed
to unreachable fire and scouring salt.
Stout, alone, together, they stood,
sentinels on the sandy tail of the island.

We used to say two,
as in fish the incoming tide
before a full moon
where the current runs hard
under the two chimneys.

Boating with visitors, we’d point
and say, See the pair of chimneys
and we’d think of the hard work
and stern determination of the couple
painted by Grant Wood.

But this winter, one chimney tumbled
returned to the beach rubble
from which its stones were picked
and mortared for audacious families
a century ago. The single chimney

totters. We can’t say two
or pair or couple. We can’t say
chimneys anymore.

                          -Don McLagan