Tag Archives marching songs

A POET IN WARTIME

Nuns clambered on the headland. Like scarabs,

they traversed the sage slope of limestone

to the hermit’s shrine. Marine creatures, landlocked,

awaited the sea’s coming. The poet

descended by funicular to the bay’s

elegant crescent of hotels. Mists

trailed the foothills of distant peaks. In saloons

of bevelled mirrors, his comrades sang

marching songs. A love poem formed like breath.

 

He crunched on innumerable pebbles.

Waves gasped and sighed, smoothing the wooden groynes.

Two aircraft, high, high above, dived, banked, climbed –

a predatory bond of whining vapour loops

interlocked like wire – until a spurt of flame.

In smoke, one spiralled like some gross leaf

under the horizon. By the sea wall,

a cormorant lay dead: nearby, a page

torn from Treasure Island. Unexpectedly,

he returned to childhood – holidays

in small rooms with giant wardrobes and tall beds;

a flying boat landing from beyond the blue,

feathering the briny; expensive strangers

embarking for Samarkand; at the Grand,

legerdemain. The sea flowed oyster.

 

Teatime arrived with its obligations,

allotments, chapels and a woman

methodically descending a ladder.

Drizzle suffused the geometrical skies

of barrack windows. The grey tide rasped.

The night was full of girls he would never see.

Nuns dreamt of scaling paradise. Fossils

and saint were locked in their diurnal chambers.

The poet approached sleep, dreaming of

water – purposeless, unmade, fulfilling –

and lavender seeds – in the small, azure

pomander, locked away, safe from winter –

changing slowly into air.

 

 

 

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