Island Life

What are the bounds of the fog-bound harbour?

The book of charts lying open on the table,

the reticular wall, the white lighthouse, the sandstone bluffs

we could neither reach nor read to scale

are of recent invention, while the fog drifts in

as from some other, islanded time –

memory of a theatre in a memory theatre,

memory of fog, etc.,

painted landscapes rising up from gray sea –

and these bodies restless as waves

and these voices beached

to stumble or crawl along water’s edge –

Is it sad Palinurus

who walks along the littoral?

Or is it the curiosity collector,

combing sand for misshapen stars

for the years that have passed

and the years that will not?

And where is the sun of the sunstruck days?

For here is the point defined, the cliff outlined,

the white gull’s whirling caught

against sky-blue spotted and stained with rust –

scenes for an ironic tourist to pose before,

hand shading eyes that look out beyond the frames.

Memory of a glass stolen

then broken,

memory of an H and its versions,

of an island and its reasons –

and the old soldier before the cemetery wall,

the fishermen before the boats,

the nets they ravel

then unravel,

sieving for silver, blood, signs.

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