29 September 2005

The Sea Unchanged

Another day down and done,
another day yet begun.
Golden hues of death, rebirth,
rise with the Herons like a spear
over a crystallized horizon-
furied flight raging westward.

A tortured oaken coastline emerges,
home country and safe harbor;
cold arms of the sea let go
to warm embraces of the one I call beloved.
Jagged jetties reach out, their lingering stone fingers
stroking the feet of the blithe lovers near shore;
blackened shapes against the burnt amber sky.

At night, the sea twinkles red
and green and the shore rises from the deep
in honey-colored lights of life,
static-electric and bright, the streets swimming
with jovial masses hand-clinging and swinging.

Theirs are carefree days and careless whispers
unknowing of the men toiling under savage tasks
their mistress bids them do, shirts sweat-soaked
and clinging unnecessarily to their skin-
savage hearts in a ravaged land
where lace graces clinging chimes on a dusty porch
and a young girl smiles under a dirt-smudged face.

Gleaming eyes of children teaming the water's edge
when the whistle of lady steel sails into harbor
outweigh the hulks rusting at the pier;
their orange corpses a dotted horizon
of cranes, mastheads, and wheelhouses,
their bilges filling with water and mold:
the smell of mildew penetrating the decks as
mold and ivy grow up the clapboards
that once teamed with life and now decadent rot
ever simmering, swirling in the acrid summer afternoon.

Behind cracked, rotting picket fences
mothers cling babies to their breasts.
The sea claims what it wants like a lustful heart
ever hungry for more, an appetite
insatiable and perillously wreckless,
heaving boats and their crew to the deep
on a sad wind-swept night where the sounds
of the buoy bell drown out screams from sunken hopes.

Gossamer moonlight slithers
over the trails of ghosts
sliding along the tidewaters
and currents, mournful and slow,
a sinking eddy that denies advance
and transfer, a sinking eddy that denies
a home of a father or brother or son...

All the while, church bells clang
from the bellfry; they ring out their song
ceaseless as the tides and unchanging.
Clanging, they herald deaths of those away;
unchanged, they clang faithful to worship,
unchanged, they announce new birth:
God, the sea, and the bells, unchanged.

Art McLean & Michael Dingler
29 September 05