Monday, December 22, 2008

754. The Calm - David Wagoner

Drifting and mimicking the loss of the wind
With a loss of mind,
Left slack-sailed here in the sea, doing nothing at all
For days, we begin
Taking our lives uneasily. Only the daylight
And the cracked chronometer
Are moving. Though we turn away from the sun
Or rise under the moon
As if we were earth and tide, the rest is stillness.
If we broke our silence,
This palpable air would ripple obediently,
But our voices falter.
They melt on the sea, as brief as glints of starlight.
On the deep dry land
Why did we never think of the miles and miles
Under us, holding us?
Above half-leagues of water, we think of little
Else than how deeply
The two of us might sink, turning to food
For the thoughts of others.
We could have stayed on firmanent, on a desert
Where water waves goodbye,
Goodbye, and vanishes, a plain where it flows
On its own sight journeys,
Or on mountains where we could watch it frozen, toppling
(Instead of us) down cliffsides.
But here we huddle, surrounded. From miles below,
Now, come the monsters
Toward the glassy calm around us, uncoiling,
Lifting kelp-ragged
Slime-scaled snag-toothed cold impossible heads.
Eyes filled to the brim
With blankness, breaching and hulking, slewing toward us
Where we drift like lures.
Though they come closer, closer, blurred in the dark,
They never strike, never
Loom, ravenous, never thrash the surface
To break this mirror.