April 27, 2005

The Silhouettes

Off the beach and beyond the reef where the breakers slash,
two ships scud in silhouette, struggling towards safe harbors
over sheets of burnished pewter as the rogue wave rises.

The small town's ordered lawns, spattered
with deserted wives and businessmen,
make calm ponds of green, of vacant thoughts of green,
bordered by a planked path that curves
between the grass and the clean and sifted sand.

Once off the path our steps were quick
among the shells of ancient crabs,
the finer grind of granite,
the grey grains of bone and pearl;
among the buried beach glass, the shards
of broken promises and lives,
that, concealed beneath the wave smoothed surface,
would slash a foot set wrong an inch.
And so along the long sands we stepped,
hunched against our wind-tossed histories,
and hurried homeward in the afternoon.

Our pace, pressured as a drunken tambourine,
beat to the sound's small tide that,
cupping emerald seagrass in soft hands,
swelled within the water
as your breasts might when,
caressed by languid fingers
in a careless night, rise
in a rage of heat, up over rocks, and rip salt-flamed
all walls to ruined rubble, and remove
all drowned and rusted monuments to navigation,
that once out of chains the soul chimes
to free the fettered mind from memory that it sing,
and louder sing, until light is taken out of dark,
drowning all of was to raise in dawn what is,
that trumpets scorch the stones and scatter then,
like ancient bones tossed into ash, all the past
lashed onto the slow sea swell withdrawing ,
drowning them down in the eel's dank lair,
into that damp oblivion the stars create
by shining on the waters of the moon.

To drown in one great wave the shore,
the grass, and all the waste of was.
To leave the past annihilate,
as waves once spent, forget their water,
erasing footprints, ash and embers,
single feathers curved for flight,
become glass shadows on the tide moist grass,
or fading fog on silver plashed,
or the listless lift of empty hands,
or the dream sealed in the stone.

(Her skin glowing with a scatter of stars,
the untraced map of forsaken constellations.
Her taste, the tang of seafoam and copper fading
into blue behind the high cirrus.
Her kisses like the pale glimmer of cave fish
born to blindness in the caverns of the sea.
Her thoughts, pale flickers of farewell.)

On the horizon, two trim ships,
their sails set full in silhouette,
merged, and then passed,
and then sailed into the distances

and drowned.

                                    --Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach 2005

Posted by Vanderleun at April 27, 2005 3:58 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

(sigh) Rapturous.

"hunched against our wind-tossed histories"

"drowning all of was to raise in dawn what is"

"kisses like the pale glimmer of cave fish"

One teensy distraction--repetition of "glass" and "burnished".

Posted by: danae at April 27, 2005 9:02 PM

You're correct. Altered.

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at April 27, 2005 11:09 PM


Posted by: P.A. Breault at April 28, 2005 8:57 AM

T. S. Eliot meets E. E. Cummings, and both fall in defeat. Gerard, when will you publish a compendium? Each poem outshines the previous, and all are wonderful. Write on.

Posted by: Bill at April 28, 2005 7:21 PM