And what do you say to the lady
who waits on the shore and ponders
the ships that glide in the harbour
towards her, and away.
Away to the gargoyle that fed her, reared her,
then spat her out on the ocean,
a shell to be flipped up here.
the grime of her cities,
the rails she has ridden,
the birds she has heard.
And you would have said that the turns
she has taken, or not taken,
the about-flips, the flustered hesitations,
must have been the wrong ones,
could have been dead ends.
She sees a son’s face in the waters,
Byronic curls, down-soft cheeks.
He’s lost in that ocean, somewhere in the waves.
Washed away too the nurturers, the husbanders,
the ready, comfortable, beery jokes
slipping from their lips.
Their wit knows nothing
of dark tunnels,
their mouths curl, so innocent they, of what lies so deep,
so deep beneath the waves.
There is the bright world, sunshine glancing, a memory of a ferris wheel,
smells of old wood and urine, a sour, oceanic tang.
And the boats, bobbing on the water, streaked with rainbow slicks,
lilacs, puces, ochres.
They said they don’t mix, oil with water,
and yet how they try, she thinks.