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Rita Anderson "The Outer Banks"

The Outer Banks



Before check out, you return

to the hotel buffet for seconds,

eggs and ham rewarmed

from yesterday’s breakfast.


Forking into the meat of an unripe

melon, I fill my mouth, not hungry yet

but too tired to speak, and you are

always most talkative in the morning,


the military training you to rise before

the sun tumbles from its slumber. Zero

dark thirty, you joke—a habit so ingrained

you can’t even break it on vacation. Distracted


you catch the news while I watch the trees

outside, taller, greener, and more abundant

than at home and, sure, I’m sleepy, but this

grove seems to interact, in constant motion


as if sharing a language I would never understand.

Long married, we too had strayed from our

familiar tongue, from a plan to visit your father;

his death quick enough to stun us from our itinerary,


casting a pall over the allure of North Carolina,

where you’d lived once. We never did make it

to Camp Lejeune, to Hatteras because there was

too much distance between the Outer Banks and


where we were. But weren’t you and I lost in

a similar imbalance? –You, the adult orphan now.

Your mother. Then your father. A foreign experience

for me, I could not reach you, mired as I was some-


where between sympathy and empathy. Your father’s

health likewise severing him from his hearing,

his memory, sight, and then his breath. Rowing,

as we all must, until we can’t anymore


along the outer banks of self,


youth and old age distant shores


Rita Anderson has an MFA Poetry and an MA Playwriting. A published and award-winning writer, Rita went on scholarship to The O’Neill. Her play, Frantic is the Carousel, was the National Partners American Theatre nominee, and Rita won the Ken Ludwig Playwriting Award, the top national prize from The Kennedy Center for “Best Body of Work.” Rita has had over 100 publications and as many productions to include several each in London, Paris, and Dubai. Final Conversations and Early Liberty, internationally published (, are on the “Best Selling Plays” list. Rita is the Dramatists Guild Regional Rep (AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO) and she is Faculty at Interlochen, but the highlight of her emerging career was sitting on a panel with Christopher Durang. Rita has two volumes of poetry: The Entropy of Rocketman and Watched Pots (A Lovesong for Motherhood), both of which have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Contact Rita via her website:

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