Atlantic thundering


Seamus Heaney

I returned to a long strand,
the hammered curve of a bay,
and found only the secular
powers of the Atlantic thundering.

I faced the unmagical
invitations of Iceland,
the pathetic colonies
of Greenland, and suddenly

those fabulous raiders,
those lying in Orkney and Dublin
measured against
their long swords rusting,

those in the solid
belly of stone ships,
those hacked and glinting
in the gravel of thawed streams

were ocean-deafened voices
warning me, lifted again
in violence and epiphany.
The longship’s swimming tongue

was buoyant with hindsight—
it said Thor’s hammer swung
to geography and trade,
thick-witted couplings and revenges,

the hatreds and behind-backs
of the althing, lies and women,
exhaustions nominated peace,
memory incubating the spilled blood.

It said, ‘Lie down
in the word-hoard, burrow
the coil and gleam
of your furrowed brain.

Compose in darkness.
Expect aurora borealis
in the long foray
but no cascade of light.

Keep your eye clear
as the bleb of the icicle,
trust the feel of what nubbed treasure
your hands have known.’

leave me


The Fire
Louise Glück
Had you died when we were together
I would have wanted nothing of you.
Now I think of you as dead, it is better.

Often, in the cool early evenings of the spring
when, with the first leaves,
all that is deadly enters the world,
I build a fire for us of pine and apple wood;
the flames flare and diminish
as the night comes on in which
we see one another so clearly—

And in the days we are contented
as formerly
in the long grass,
in the woods’ green doors and shadows.

And you never say
Leave me
since the dead do not like being alone.



Nearing Dawn
Jorie Graham

Sunbreak. The sky opens its magazine. If you look hard
it is a process of falling
and squinting—& you are in-
terrupted again and again by change, & crouchings out there
where you are told each second you
are only visiting, & the secret
whitening adds up to no
meaning, no, not for you, wherever the loosening muscle of the night
startles-open the hundreds of
thousands of voice-boxes, into which
your listening moves like an aging dancer still trying to glide—there is time for
everything, everything, is there is not—
though the balance is
difficult, is coming un-
done, & something strays farther from love than we ever imagined, from the long and
orderly sentence which was a life to us, the dry
leaves on
the fields
through which the new shoots glow
now also glowing, wet curled tips pointing in any
as if the idea of a right one were a terrible forgetting—as one feels upon
waking—when the dream is cutting loose, is going
back in the other
direction, deep inside, behind, no, just back—&
one is left looking out—& it is
breaking open further—what are you to do—how let it fully in—the wideness of it
is staggering—you have to have more arms eyes a
thing deeper than laughter furrows more
capacious than hate forgiveness remembrance forgetfulness history silence
precision miracle—more
furrows are needed the field
cannot be crossed this way the
wide shine coming towards you standing in
the open window now, a dam breaking, reeking rich with the end of
winter, fantastic weight of loam coming into the
soul, the door behind you
shut, the
great sands behind there, pharaohs, the millennia of carefully prepared and buried
bodies, the ceremony and the weeping for them, all
back there, lamentations, libations, earth full of bodies everywhere, our bodies,
some still full of incense, & the sweet burnt
offerings, & the still-rising festival out-cryings—& we will
from it all
nothing—& our ships will still go,
after the ritual killing to make the wind listen,
out to sea as if they were going to a new place,
forgetting they must come home yet again ashamed
no matter where they have been—& always the new brides setting forth—
& always these ancient veils of their falling from the sky
all over us,
& my arms rising from my sides now as if in dictation, & them opening out from me,
& me now smelling the ravens the blackbirds the small heat of the rot in this largest
cage—bars of light crisping its boundaries—
& look
there is no cover, you cannot reach
it, ever, nor the scent of last night’s rain, nor the chainsaw raised to take the first of the
far trees
down, nor the creek’s tongued surface, nor the minnow
turned by the bottom of the current—here
is an arm outstretched, then here
is rightful day and the arm is still there, outstretched, at the edge of a world—tyrants
imagined by the bearer of the arm, winds listened for,
corpses easily placed anywhere the
mind wishes—inbox, outbox—machines
that do not tire in the
distance—barbed wire taking daysheen on—marking the end of the field—the barbs like a
lineup drinking itself
crazy—the wire
where it is turned round the post standing in for
mental distress—the posts as they start down the next field sorting his from
mine, his from the
other’s—until you know, following,
following, all the way to the edge and then turning again, then again, to the
far fields, to the
height of the light—you know
you have no destiny, no, you have a wild unstoppable
rumor for a soul, you
look all the way to the end of
your gaze, why did you marry, why did you stop to listen,
where are your fingerprints, the mud out there hurrying to
the white wood gate, its ruts, the ants in it, your
imagination of your naked foot placed
there, the thought that in that there
is all you have & that you have
no rightful way
to live—

“weary of licking my heart”


Audre Lorde

Belligerent and beautiful as a trapped ibis
your lean hands are a sacrifice
spoken three times
before dawn
there is blood in the morning egg
that makes me turn and weep
I see you
weaving pain into garlands
the shape of a noose
while I grow
of licking my heart
for moisture
cactus tongued.

hard dry pain


Aila Meriluoto

A love: merely a sea
surging through the limbs, a sea of blood
with skin-hairs swaying like water-plants;
under the abundance a hard dry pain, submerged:
today under our boat –
a noon shadow?
a deep-down black palm supporting us:
ebony, plated with waves,
beautiful, from here, already.

Photo by Alex on Unsplash