sea intervals

weary of life and lost time I stood at the hard grey rim of the sea as the flutter and speck of a pale sun dropped below the water and I heard my heart beat loud through the pang in my ribs caught now by the treacherous dice of life and the cold truth of no escape utterly lost and exiled in this westward sea town with its hard chapter and tradition its upright bodies its parched straight lips and its holy holy holy

drinking through the night in the tidewater bars I learned the strange breezebreath whisper of water and the dark whaleshape of the waves and heard the heavy lifeless thump of dead bird on ghostsail and I saw the seamen turning their glazed eye suddenly to the overclouded moon as they listened to the warping groan and beat of it all and cursed the cold night and the restless bloodwork of the sea

I asked those men to tell me of things I could never know the hulk of keel in the hook of a sea mist and the wide white sail dashed in a cross-gale but they shook with a sudden grace and drew their breath and replied with the hint and sigh of memories inexpressible and I thought I heard then a strange wild call and a mystic rush of wings and into the dim flame of the lamp the albatross seemed to come as a spectre folding a lost white feather round each man’s neck in a pale spell of dread and death