Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January: "If Once You Have Slept on an Island"

If you wish to avoid foreign collision, you had better abandon the ocean.
-Henry Clay

If once you have slept on an island
You'll never be quite the same…
-Rachel Field

If once you have slept on an island, new
With year, and January’s doorways, windows
Opened out past the beach, in past the curtains,
Then you know how even in sleep the sea
Ceaselessly commutes, surrounding each day
With surf's squared-off epiphany at your door.
You wake and drown in garnets at sunrise,
Awake in cool dampness beneath the sheets,
Missing what it said, but certain of the voice –
That same dampness which whispered you to sleep.
Then you’ll have found this blue and green island
Which surrounds you, split in your eye, sundering
Your time, bringing each weekend on the wind.
From the edge of your bed, edge of the world,
You hear oceans pegging down your corridors
Of slate-grey morning. Here, the faint odor
Of last night’s cooked sole hangs like gentle
Aftermath, and lost quests for old romance
Surge past bluest dreams, creak with the floor joists,
And hiss in the dune grass under the porch...
Thirty-one days hath your island. An un-
Even split – against the shoals on which you dream:
Where it is always winter and the beaches
Always filling with cries, gulled and echoless;
Where departures and arrivals are all the same,
All run to one featureless promontory
Spied from the ferry, and your heart races
Every time you return, each time you go –
And scrub oak and snarled patches of pine find
The primal cling of anticipation’s root
To bald outcrops of rock – old as the new year.

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