(After Anna Akhmatova)
So what that I write about grief
—grief and melancholy,
when this is what I live with,
those old foes that know me
—love me even.
How we carouse and commiserate
late into the year,
feeling sorry for ourselves,
and each other.
How else get through the life
on cue, our timing perfect
—perfectly guarded to whatever
—every ship that sinks
and fills the sea with mourners.
THE BLUE SHIPS
Ships are blue because they are blue,
creating their own distance,
sailing into horizons where everything ends,
a diminishing blue on a dark ocean.
Ships are blue because
memory likes them that way :
little painted boats on little ponds,
happy as toys—
even little suffered ships in bottles,
the pride of clever boys.
Ships are blue because memory sails them
into blue calms and storms—
wondering about their destinations,
their passengers, their crews.
Sometimes tantrums drown them, careless
as storms of the heart, the angry power
in the moment. How they resist,
turning bluer and defiant—
buffeting upon the towering waves
that fight the lowering skies.
Home will always remind them
its dutiful prayers,
its candled windows.
Ships are blue
because they are made of farewell
which is final—adrift in
the desolate mind of feeling and no feeling
—even the heart pumps blue to fill the ocean
of that strange longing.
THE CAR ON THE BEACH
A car parked on the beach—its headlights staring out over
the water—watching for navy mermaids to swim
away from ships with their lonely tears—
watching for stars to fall into the fog.
How will this pining car adapt to tides?
The first waves lap at the shadows of its tires.
How will it know when to let go the land and drive out
to the horizon line just like the ships that have disappeared?
VESUVIUS IN THE DISTANCE
Up close the slow boats on the
tranquil water, passing each
other in layered perspectives,
the boats anonymous
The far-off mountain sleeps
under the flat sky—this is
a year among years—
time protects the boats
and the tranquil water
The day drones on
the boats seem to not move
but they are moving—through
toward the sleeping mountain.
(After Ice Creatures Water Color, 1943 by Henry Miller)
For years he swam under ice
toward the one who was always
above him, encased in blue sunlight;
where he could see her, ever skimming
the other dimension, wearing a
white coat of scales that glittered,
and he knew he could reach her;
there was always the current, pulling him
in her direction—and she beckoned,
smiling—Oh, this was impossible.
It took too long for both of them.
He grew to love the grip of water,
which was deep, and deeply lonely.
She was afraid of depths, and she
loved to float on the surfaces where
down-swimming skies could touch her.
Yet, somehow they held
their legend true. Ships came and went
with the telling. All the storms
knew; and the long, caressing calms
that could wait forever.
My non-arrival in the city of N
took place on the dot.
My non-arrival in the city of N
(…though I meant to be there as we
had not planned—
you in your airplane, lost in the sky
and I on a ship that straddled land
took place on the dot
(…though we were not there,
blessing fate—but caught
in the vast Somewhere….)
THE BOATS AT THE EDGE OF SUMMER
(After Boats at ĽEstaque by Raoul Dufy)
Let us play with summer
a while longer
in the sunlight in the cove,
are touching the low ceiling
where the crosses cross
and make a prayerful image
and the water laps at the green edges
of the light—an unhurried sound—
in the heat,
but the dream of boats,
nudging against each other
by the sloshing, trapped exertion
of the painted water
the boats bump softly there
against the water and
against the walls
that hold them,
real and imaginary,
for the sake of being, their sails removed.
HARBOR LIGHTS AT THE END OF SUMMER
Remember the way to the harbor . . . ?
The seagulls were circling and circling.
The skies were so broken we shuddered.
The breezes came up of a sudden—
the turbulence sudden with meaning.
The docks set to rocking and rocking.
The twilight grew longer and colder.
Our long-ago summer was ending
in moonlight and starlight’s last ember.
We watched the small boats bump together.
We watched how the lights touched the water.
We lingered, then lingered the longer.
Remember? Remember? Remember?
THE ROYAL PORTABLE
ca. 1940, Long Beach, CA
Came right off the ship,
and gave it to me
for my birthday.
My very own!
For poems! and stories!
with a black and red ribbon
that went back and forth—
until fading beyond legibility.
—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for this morning's fine contributions, and a note that our new Seed of the Week is Colors of Autumn. Send your poems, photographs and artwork about this (or any other!) subject to email@example.com/. No deadline on SOWs.