Monday, August 2, 2010

August: "Harbor, Monhegan" *

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.
–Jeremiah 8::20

Halfway between the hurried-up hills
And the grizzled brine into which
They spill lies Monhegan Harbor.
It exists in maps exactly the same.

And exactly where one would expect,
There, the gulls cluster – on the buoys
Which hide themselves behind a regatta,
Shell-white and bobbing like horse-heads.
Their pitchy prows lift and lunge fiercely,
Each, the edgy knife blade of Old Man
Sea’s dormant rage. But back on shore,

The boy with snap-shot frankness and
January eyes, he too, is exactly
Where one would expect him to be –
Assumed up to his ankles in the hot pitch
Of August. The exhausted smile on
His beautiful face hiding the fury of
This tarry harvest, day’s headlong heat.

From furnace-innards, heart of carnelian,
Soul of sardonyx... The boy is
Descended from the torturous tar-and-
Brine of Monhegan blood (this known
Mostly from the boy’s pert disinterest
In his inherited surroundings, call it
An incendiary peace possessing all

Understanding), yet boyhood itself tires.
So, tar which braces New England’s ancient
Hulls against ice-blue screams of gulls,
Will have to do, as well, to caulk-and-seam
His own Monhegan handsomeness, august
And tending, even now, toward the autumnal.
*Apologies for the size of the image; grateful if someone found a larger version on the Net somewheres!

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