Everything I know about the sea and sailing I have learned from and with Marike. She does not speak in this piece, but, as in Nightwatch #1, is everywhere implied. Beneath the sound of the waves and the wind in the sails and the hum of the engine I am listening for her breath, for the sound of her stirring. I move quietly in the dark hours, so as to let her rest, every hour logging our position on paper so that should something go wrong with the power systems on the boat, we know (more or less) where we are. She does likewise as I am sleeping, sailing sailing sailing into the light. Continue reading Nightwatch #2 (on boredom)
Night or day, when at sea we are always on watch, Marike and I.
She is the skipper, the one who oversees and takes charge of the whole vessel–without her there would be neither vessel nor voyage–and I navigator and cook, but we make all of the important decisions about what to do on a passage together, including how and when to spell each other off. Continue reading Nightwatch #1 (on demons and ghosts)
There is a ghost of sorrow who lives in my heart.
It wakes; it keeps me awake;
it squeezes against my chest.
Sometimes it leaks from my eyes when I am driving
as if lured by a ribbon of song or Continue reading Ghost of sorrow
The house cracks with cold and I wake as if gunshot, veering from dream into thumping pressure on my eardrums. I am inside Ilya Kaminsky’s republic of the deaf watching birds lift noiselessly into the sky after an explosion. The news coming from the Ukraine, from Odessa and Kharkiv and Lviv and Kyiv is uniformly terrible. Continue reading Watching birds lift noiselessly after an explosion (Postcard with Ilya Kaminsky)
I let out the dog and stand in the air, inhaling lungfuls of land and sea smell. A damp breeze circles my ankles. Suddenly nearby a loon cry and then another and another. On this shore we say that means a change in the weather. Usually rain. But I also hear: company in the darkness so eloquent that at once it pierces and names your loneliness. Loonsong the stitch that knits life and death and every isolated sorrow, the sound for which I’ve forever waited at the water’s edge, neither coming nor going nor yet surely staying. Continue reading Nightdark loonsong heartswail
We gathered rhubarb from our neighbours’ patch and close by, in a dell, I found a broad scattering of violets, the last of the season. I plucked them and dropped them into my hat; I wanted to try to make violet flower ink. Continue reading An alchemy of violets
We are seized by the yellow light of the fading afternoon: the way the islands flame before the setting sun. Here is winter, but there is light. Continue reading What is seen in a season of darkness
Like so many since the Nova Scotia massacre in mid April, I have been having nightmares, and am often awake during the night. This terrible event has awakened all the old traumas…When I do finally sleep, waking each morning is like crashing into a low wall. I am editing a poem I had begun to draft before the massacre called Elimination Round about big game hunting in Mexico and its relationships to tourism and other forms of collecting, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of missing and murdered in Mexico these last few years, and I can hardly face it. The spent metal casings of .223 rounds are a debris field scattered behind and before us, the horror of so many lives lost and hearts broken a scorching flare turning the hours to ash. Continue reading Bodies in Pain–on hurting and being hurt
Flight is impossible, love, so fight it must be; every night I wrestle with the angel of god and my hips, struck, ache. When I wake my hands are curled into fists; it grows ever harder to unclench them. And who remembers to breathe anymore? The tight band that constricts our chests feels like a heart attack. I am exhausted but I find it hard to sleep deeply. When I finally drift off there are always strange dreams: in them, the bodies pile up. Continue reading When flight is impossible
I, like so many, dread this wave of death hurtling towards us; every time I hear the news out of the US my chest and throat constrict, as if I can’t breathe. No wonder the night falls so hard. We draw the curtains and listen to the wind but we can’t shut it out. There is no moon.
Strange, how every utterance, no matter how factual, becomes a metaphor. Continue reading Night falls hard