for an Estuary
The study is always lost
to deeper ocean.
From a distance the local watermen see approaching winds
as they move across the water, a long abandonment
into current. The winds pull the surface into arcs
and bands, where below it suddenly drops,
a sea-height winding downward, dark with silk.
These are boundaries they do not understand,
why depth is evident only in wind, why the insistence of air
should sweep aside the water in shallow bays, and yield nothing...
Where the river enters the larger body,
words are always wrong. And here,
where early winter winds break against the sandbars,
pleasure makes it fluent, as far out the seaspray passes into light.
The bodies of the men a great space upon which an ocean is growing...
I live inside my voice. There are burdens: prior mistakes,
the gradual abandon into anger. Where the cold, mid-ocean water
pushes marine-shadows west, a few seabirds swing through air
then drop to the surface. Like the winds,
they float simply on currents and will wait
for warm water to slide beneath them, films of salt
and coralline light, until they are fully touched, and calmed
I see always the song-passage as it moves away from me, place of
I see everywhere the frequent change and the sorry answers.
And still, what promise is this, what poise,
what poise of what worlds...
Perhaps there are two seas,
one below the surface and one above,
and the shapes moving within the water
we recognize only by their darkness.
Bright water-streams close around them.
If there is plant-life, it moves against this massive current
into coastal estuary, where it can grow.
The fish are swept seaward, out toward some drifting center
to warm and rise and be translated into light
and the men wait, and stare, so among themselves in this cold music
(wind acting on water, water dragging the cloud-patterns out)
and I feel that I cannot hold within my body
or abide within a body.
And the river gives light, gives up its green,
and I want nothing back, want only this issuance,
that you would reach into me, and not turn away, and simply wait
Estuary, entry: light guiding the wave, green-deepening shadow.
The men promise to belong to what they are.
Half-spoken, the birds lift into air
while cloudlight moves inside the reeds
Such unexpected tenderness
And there is always something further than you, liquid, unlived,
and the ocean is widespread, driving away from shore.
And we are always coast, are always where we stand,
and the men say Quiet widen the shoreline breakers
and the men are subdued by darker weather washing inward,
black light sculpting, dissolving the waves, to hold up
some brief, sweet concert (bouvardia, breeze, a room letting in
until I am required to be someone else, and the water follows some
uninvolved with me.
Yet how like my hopes you are to me,
radiant water-shade in open ocean,
a current yards below what might be seen
that wanders and lingers here in questions...
as water moves more slowly than most air,
as air dries the inland lake not fed by any river
that rises and drops with the shining water table.
Why are things as they are, and not some other way?
When you are turned away from me, toward dream,
and of itself the distance sediments, and strains,
some wind bearing warm water might ride across the jet-stream,
brushing surface currents back, lifting arcs
of sealight up from underneath to cross the stones.
The stones open.
The gulls stand in their sleep.
The men watch for weather in the simple passage
beyond the feathered waves in seablue shadow,
beyond the arrangement of this grief, where we fall
into singleness, and fight to understand
I watch for the song that promises change
and in change the evanescent music
where dusk has quietly appeared, a piece of time,
to lay its slow storm over the water, black sun in the sheets,
that I might sink back down into the bed
and the bones close beneath me
And I am very far within you, and the passage hushed
now that the rain has opened over ocean,
and though sometimes there is rage,
though sometimes we are involved in things that have no care,
the rain still falls and turns glass strands to air,
loosening words in shapes of wings or islands, and the men
understand, in their preponderance, some history that
abides in water forms, that reaches deep into our inattention,
and we are constantly given indications, and we are always unprepared
a sound, inconsequential, it may seem, and inhuman,
but imprinted in the voice of precedent, half orchard half waste,
lexicon opening without entry, until the river unwinds
in sail and smoke-blue light and is made visible:
ocean, and the angle at which it is swept back,
and the moving arms of the men, covered in rain,
and the shadows of fish that spread through darker waters.