What else to do between the storms
but go down to this short road of departure,
wondering who were the poets of the sea?
Mackay Brown, for sure. Longfellow.
Baudelaire, once in a while. And a few
who'd travel down for its calm days.
The sea; a salt north wind: a brief but sure
compendium of every reason
that trees won't grow here; that the church took root;
that the song-folk slip off so early
on the same light raft they travelled here on.
Better to be a poet of the land.
Here we're left with the stiff buds of seaweed;
a bloom that's promised but that never opens.
Blue ambulance lights beach against the streetlamps.
What a night to depart, with the first storm
of winter still a day from breaking; and the town's
palest girl due to wear that reddest dress
she wears so seldom. Just imagine,
hung on to hear, perfected, from the window,
as the sleet falls, that hush in her red wake.
Who else awake when Watson Street doesn't run
between our Station Road and Berry Drive?
Pitch black and birdless, windless and without
its here to here,
as a last by-way on a map
that's found diminishing on a low hearth-fire,
joining nothing to nothing's upper lands;
on it a footstep will thunder like a drum.
There you were, farrier and blacksmith,
who if called upon would have
gutted the house for metals, every
lock and moth-hinge.
The high tide of trade,
the toughening and night-work; shaping
your loved materials - horse-shoes, pins,
those small weights we fastened at the breast.