i breathe the salted air

Ode to the sea

Not a single walk out one hundred
yards or more
could boast about being free
from a shore,
or a hook or a net;
without any effort of being made to
remove bodies
of mackerel or squid to its
final resting place.

A lone fisherman carries in his hands
the lifeless body
of a fine fish, and making the most
distressing appeal
to a shore man for aid to enable
him to pursue a
wooden coffin to bury it in.

My heart aches and a drowsy numbness
pains my sense
as though of seawater I had drunk, or
emptied some dull boat
to the drains in some melodious plot
of tidal green,
and fishermen numberless drowning
in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of waves that have
been lingering a long age
in the deep-delved sea, or for a
breaker full of brine,
its blushing warmth with beaded bubbles
winking at the brim,
and salted mouth that I might drink and
leave this world unseen.

As I wade far away, dissolve, and
quite forgot,
no longer among the dunes I have
never known,
my weariness and last grey hairs-
my body grows pale
and spectre-thin, and dies;
where but to think is full of sorrow
and leaden-weight despaired.

Away! away! As I walk into the sea,
charioted by fish
and crab, by wings of gulls; haply
the king moon
sits on its throne, clustered around
by starry skies,
but here there is no light.

I cannot see my feet in the clay
of tides, nor feel
the softness of night; I am embalmed
in darkness and its
pastoral eglantine. Fast fading, I am
covered up in waves,
in their murmurous haunt of death.

#1Ode to the sea


Sunlight and reflections in the seaside mud,
thrilling children wired for a summer;
they dance along the changing tide.

The wind howls, the sea yelps,
children’s voices measured out in time;
rung like a bell of the unhurried.

The children weave, the children wind,
they unravel the morning, the past;
time stops, and time is never ending.

Sundown, sunup, the children never leave,
their images reflecting in a watery mirror;
it glows more intense with their moving spirits.

The sun, a bloom more sudden than a moon,
budding along the hedges of dunes;
a morning arises with its voluptuary sweetness.

The children came by day, like husks of shells
washing along the beach and into tidal pools;
they speak a language, but not of the living.

Dead water, dead sand, like dust in the air,
dark gulls with flickering tongues; dead scales
on fish, rattling like tin in cups of brine.

The moment sank into the asphalt of the horizon,
the sea now a waning stranger. The children
ghosted, stone white faces; they kick the empty pails.

They left their bodies on an empty shoreline,
without enchantment, their laughter ceased to amuse;
they are no more than exasperated spirits.

Their smiles cracking like disfigured streets;
now paved over where there was once a beach.
Faded, blowing, no longer resembling a life.