Saturday, August 11, 2018

Herring Cove




Fog upholsters Herring Cove,

snuffing the sea horizon
with Leonardo’s sfumato,
obscuring distinctions you
and I used to think mattered.
Surf has rounded the beach stones
so they gloss in the fitful rain.
Slickered up for the weather,
we pose in various poses
safely distant from each other
to maintain the you and I.
A few islets drift through the mist,
then nothing but raw Atlantic.

We could walk to Iceland from here
on Campobello, where tourists
in brighter weather play golf
and spend US and Canadian
dollars with equal fervor.
We could walk if the water
were only the ghost of water,
as it seems to be at this moment.
But to punctuate the absence
of form, a seal head perks
from the gray, a black rubber nub
smirking as it confronts us.

Lending weight to the filmy air,
the seal head nails us to a view
we had hardly thought a view
a moment ago. We shuffle
closer to each other and stare
so hard at the water that one
more seal head appears. Two
look at two. Now the sea, lacking
the imperative of surf, closes
gently over the slick black spots
to leave us staring more deeply
into nothing we hadn’t noticed
was nothing two minutes ago.

Fog upholsters Herring Cove,
snuffing the sea horizon
with Leonardo’s sfumato
obscuring distinctions you
and I used to think mattered.
Surf has rounded the beach stones
so they gloss in the fitful rain.
Slickered up for the weather,
we pose in various poses
safely distant from each other
to maintain the you and I.
A few islets drift through the mist,
then nothing but raw Atlantic.

We could walk to Iceland from here
on Campobello, where tourists
in bright weather golf and wander,
spending US and Canadian
dollars with equal fervor.
We could walk if the water
were only the ghost of water,
as it seems to be at this moment.
But to punctuate the absence
of form, a seal head perks
from the gray, a black rubber nub
smirking as it confronts us.

Lending weight to the filmy air,
the seal head nails us to a view
we had hardly thought a view
a moment ago. We shuffle
closer to each other and stare
so hard at the water that one
more seal head appears. Two
look at two. Now the sea, lacking
the imperative of surf, closes
gently over the slick black spots
to leave us staring more deeply
into nothing we hadn’t noticed
was nothing two minutes ago.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

An April Genre Scene




Shipping containers heaped six
stories high shade sunbathers
at Pleasure Bay. Commerce smiles
more convincingly than the sun
as I savor colorful boxes
of cheap goods shipped from China

to cripple our shy economy.
The old stone fort on the island
doesn’t challenge the huge black
container ships that arrive
once or twice a week to shed
loads trundled through Panama.

It also ignores tankers churning
further up the harbor to Chelsea
to vomit oil from Baton Rouge.
The sea-horizon crinkles in mist.
Wind shucks through the playground
where toddlers chitter and howl.

The curved line of beach flexes
a single great bicep to assert
the power of form over function.
A man walks a tiny dog along
the weed-line stitched by the tide.
The dog noses every shell or scrap

of trash, every torn strop of kelp.
I want to fold this genre scene
into my pocket and take it home
to examine under lamplight.
But those half-naked sun-lovers
forcing the season would object.

And the container ship unloading
its red and green and blue boxes
would shudder and tilt in the wash,
the ripples expanding all the way
to China, where someone important
might file an official complaint.