I do not know more than the Sea tells me, told me long ago, or I overheard Her telling distant roar upon the sands, waves of meaning in the cradle of whose sounding and resounding power I slept.
Manchild, She sang
--or was it a storm uplifting the night into a moving wall in which I was carried as if a mothering nest had been made in dread?
the wave of a life darker than my life before me sped, and I, larger than I was, grown dark as the shoreless depth, arose from myself, shaking the last light of the sun from me.
Manchild, She said,
Come back to the shores of what you are. Come back to the crumbling shores.
All night The mothering tides in which your Life first formd in the brooding light have quencht the bloody Splendors of the sun
and, under the triumphant processions of the moon, lay down thunder upon thunder of an old longing, the beat
of whose repeated spell consumes you.
Thetis, then, my mother, has promised me the mirage of a boat, a vehicle of water within the water, and my soul would return from the trials of its human state, from the long siege, from the struggling companions upon the plain, from the burning towers and deeds of honor and dishonor, the deeper unsatisfied war beneath and behind the declared war, and the rubble of beautiful, patiently workt moonstones, agates, jades, obsidians,
turnd and retrund in the wash of the tides, the gleaming waste, the pathetic wonder,
words turnd in the phrases of song before our song ...or are they
beautiful, patiently workt remembrances of those long gone from me, returned anew, ghostly in the light of the moon, old faces?
For Thetis, my mother, has promised me a boat, a lover, an up-lifter of my spirit into the rage of my first element rising, a princedom in the unreal, a share in Death
One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies On water; it glides So from the walker, it turns Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.
The beautiful changes as a forest is changed By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it; As a mantis, arranged On a green leaf, grows Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.
Your hands hold roses always in a way that says They are not only yours; the beautiful changes In such kind ways, Wishing ever to sunder Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.
All all and all the dry worlds lever, Stage of the ice, the solid ocean, All from the oil, the pound of lava. City of spring, the governed flower, Turns in the earth that turns the ashen Towns around on a wheel of fire.
How now my flesh, my naked fellow, Dug of the sea, the glanded morrow, Worm in the scalp, the staked and fallow. All all and all, the corpse's lover, Skinny as sin, the foaming marrow, All of the flesh, the dry worlds lever.
Fear not the waking world, my mortal, Fear not the flat, synthetic blood, Nor the heart in the ribbing metal. Fear not the tread, the seeded milling, The trigger and scythe, the bridal blade, Nor the flint in the lover's mauling.
Man of my flesh, the jawbone riven, Know now the flesh's lock and vice, And the cage for the scythe-eyed raver. Know, O my bone, the jointed lever, Fear not the screws that turn the voice, And the face to the driven lover.
All all and all the dry worlds couple, Ghost with her ghost, contagious man With the womb of his shapeless people. All that shapes from the caul and suckle, Stroke of mechanical flesh on mine, Square in these worlds the mortal circle.
Flower, flower the people's fusion, O light in zenith, the coupled bud, And the flame in the flesh's vision. Out of the sea, the drive of oil, Socket and grave, the brassy blood, Flower, flower, all all and all.
He would drink by himself And raise a weathered thumb Towards the high shelf, Calling another rum And blackcurrant, without Having to raise his voice, Or order a quick stout By a lifting of the eyes And a discreet dumb-show Of pulling off the top; At closing time would go In waders and peaked cap Into the showery dark, A dole-kept breadwinner But a natural for work. I loved his whole manner, Sure-footed but too sly, His deadpan sidling tact, His fisherman’s quick eye And turned observant back.
Incomprehensible To him, my other life. Sometimes, on the high stool, Too busy with his knife At a tobacco plug And not meeting my eye, In the pause after a slug He mentioned poetry. We would be on our own And, always politic And shy of condescension, I would manage by some trick To switch the talk to eels Or lore of the horse and cart Or the Provisionals.
But my tentative art His turned back watches too: He was blown to bits Out drinking in a curfew Others obeyed, three nights After they shot dead The thirteen men in Derry. PARAS THIRTEEN, the walls said, BOGSIDE NIL. That Wednesday Everyone held His breath and trembled.
It was a day of cold Raw silence, wind-blown surplice and soutane: Rained-on, flower-laden Coffin after coffin Seemed to float from the door Of the packed cathedral Like blossoms on slow water. The common funeral Unrolled its swaddling band, Lapping, tightening Till we were braced and bound Like brothers in a ring.
But he would not be held At home by his own crowd Whatever threats were phoned, Whatever black flags waved. I see him as he turned In that bombed offending place, Remorse fused with terror In his still knowable face, His cornered outfaced stare Blinding in the flash.
He had gone miles away For he drank like a fish Nightly, naturally Swimming towards the lure Of warm lit-up places, The blurred mesh and murmur Drifting among glasses In the gregarious smoke. How culpable was he That last night when he broke Our tribe’s complicity? ‘Now, you’re supposed to be An educated man,’ I hear him say. ‘Puzzle me The right answer to that one.’
I missed his funeral, Those quiet walkers And sideways talkers Shoaling out of his lane To the respectable Purring of the hearse... They move in equal pace With the habitual Slow consolation Of a dawdling engine, The line lifted, hand Over fist, cold sunshine On the water, the land Banked under fog: that morning I was taken in his boat, The Screw purling, turning Indolent fathoms white, I tasted freedom with him. To get out early, haul Steadily off the bottom, Dispraise the catch, and smile As you find a rhythm Working you, slow mile by mile, Into your proper haunt Somewhere, well out, beyond...
Dawn-sniffing revenant, Plodder through midnight rain, Question me again.